A GRANDMA who halved her size after a gastric bypass has warned others not to go under the knife as new figures reveal weight-loss procedures are at a four-year high.

Oxford University NHS Trust has carried out 41 bariatric procedures on people from Oxfordshire in the first nine months of 2014/15, compared with 18 in 13/14.

This is the highest number since 2010/2011, when 40 people living in Oxfordshire had either a gastric band or bypass over the course of the year.

Loretta Cox, from Yarnton, was referred for a gastric bypass six years ago as she was morbidly obese.

At 5ft 3in tall and weighing more than 20 stone, the mother-of-two had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of almost 50, making her dangerously overweight and at a greater risk of getting cancer, diabetes and suffering heart attacks and strokes.

But despite losing almost half her body weight, the grandmother-ofthree wishes she never had the operation.

She said: “If I could go back I wouldn’t have it done. I was big but I was happy-go-lucky.

“I wore outrageous things but I got away with it because I was so big. I enjoyed myself.”

The 56-year-old has been left with excess skin and said the operation has affected her immune system.

“It hasn’t worked for me, and I would say to other people they shouldn’t have it done. It’s ruining my life.”

Weight-loss surgery performed so far in 2014/15, including an extra seven procedures done on people who were referred to Oxfordshire hospitals from outside the county, has cost taxpayers more than £320,000. This is compared with £120,000 for the whole of last year.

Dr Pritt Buttar, a GP in Abingdon, said clearer guidelines issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) had led to the rise, along with an increasingly large population, both in terms of number and in body mass.

He said: “I think it’s down to a more clear and formal referral pathway. In the past every region, hospital and doctor had a different policy.

“The problem with managing very overweight and obese people is the evidence that anything short of surgery works is disappointingly poor.

“But surgery is still not brilliant, the results are more disappointing than you would expect.”

The GP said the only answer was a shift in how obesity is viewed.

He said: “We are trying to tackle obesity at the level of the individual.

“The two biggest public health successes in my lifetime have been smoking and drink-driving.

Both have been down to societal changes.

“It’s something people still dance around. We are reluctant to call people fat and obese – until we are more honest about it we won’t see a change.”

NICE spokeswoman Alice Law said: “First line treatment is still improving diet, increasing activity and encouraging people to make lifestyle changes.

“However, if someone has failed to lose weight through medical weight-loss programmes, then weight-loss surgery can be a really effective option. We also now know that surgery can make a real difference for people with recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes.

“But it is not a quick fix or easy option and although effective, it isn’t for everyone.”

Nutritionist Helen Money, from Oxford, said more money should be spent on preventing obesity in the first place.

She said: “Weight-loss surgery is a very serious operation and should not be seen as an easy option.

“It is also a growing cost to the NHS and I would like to see more money invested in preventing obesity rather than curing it.

“Education and support provided by qualified nutritionist and dieticians should be available, plus physiotherapy.”

Oxfordshire County Council’s public health consultant Dr Beccy Cooper said there would always be a need for bariatric surgery but only in a small minority of cases.

She said: “It makes sense to try to prevent obesity in the first placeto reduce suffering and to avoid the associated costs to the NHS.”


NUMBER of Oxfordshire people getting bariatric procedures (either gastric bypass or gastric band):

  •  2014/15 (first nine months): 41
  • 2013/14: 18
  • 2012/13: 18
  • 2011/12: 27
  • 2010/11: 40

A gastric bypass involves creating a small pouch above the stomach, which is connected directly with the small intestine. This means food bypasses the stomach and bowel, meaning people feel fuller quicker p A gastric band effectively divides the stomach into two, leaving a smaller pouch at the top of the stomach which takes less food to fill, again, making people feel full more quickly