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World-first research reveals laparoscopic (keyhole) adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) surgery is more cost-effective than conventional weight loss methods for managing recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes in the obese.
The landmark research, conducted by Monash and Deakin universities and published in the American Diabetes Association's journal, Diabetes Care, recorded some dramatic findings regarding the potential health benefits and healthcare cost-savings to be gained by substituting LAGB surgery for conventional care (diet, exercise and medication) in managing type 2 diabetes in obese patients.
According to Associate Professor John Dixon, formerly from the Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) and now at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, the new research demonstrates the cost-effective benefits of LAGB surgery.
"Previously we and other researchers have shown that weight loss following gastric banding surgery improves health, enhances quality of life and saves lives.
"This new research now shows that it is also cost-effective and saves our healthcare system money.
"There are very few treatments today that do all of this," said Associate Professor Dixon.
"From a strictly cost perspective, (excluding the important quality of life and life expectancy benefits of diabetes remission), our new research presents strong evidence to show that after 10 years, the return on investment of gastric banding surgery is fully recouped through savings in healthcare costs from treating type 2 diabetes."
Ms Catherine Keating, Study Investigator and Research Fellow, Health Economics Unit, Deakin University said, "Our research shows that it costs less to treat type 2 diabetes early through gastric banding surgery than to allow the same person to live their life with the disease and face ongoing escalating treatment costs.
"Most importantly, these patients could enjoy a dramatic improvement in their quality of life because early treatment using gastric banding surgery results in remission of diabetes for many patients."
The study found that the lifetime healthcare costs were AUD2,400 less per surgical patient compared to conventional care and that these patients were also five times more likely to experience the quality of life and life expectancy benefits of diabetes remission.
"This study only considered the costs of treating type 2 diabetes, but weight loss has many additional benefits which make it even more cost-effective," said Ms Keating.
"So it is of real value to the community as there will be healthier people at less cost.
"It is fairly rare to assess a healthcare intervention that offers both health benefits and saves healthcare costs."