BMI Threshold May be Lowered from 35 to 30 for Bariatric Patients in UK, UK flagBariatric surgery has many clear benefits for patients, but getting the treatment needed isn’t always easy. In the UK, it is necessary to have a BMI of at least 35 kg/m2, but there is a change proposed to this measure. The new studies show that there may be an earlier point at which the onset of Type II Diabetes can occur. This would mean that the weight loss procedure would be necessary earlier than initially indicated, bringing the required BMI of a patient to 30 kg/m2.

What is BMI?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a generic formula based on weight and height. This number is mainly used by insurance companies to determine the amount of fat in a person’s body. A BMI of 30 or below is considered normal, and above that is considered obese. Here are classifications of obesity based on BMI:

Class 1 obesity: 30 to 35 – Class 2 obesity: 35 to 40 – Class 3 obesity: 40 and higher

The BMI levels might also differ based on the patient’s ethnicity. Studies show that some ethnicities, such as Asian, have a lower rate of BMI at which the onset of obesity-related illness sets in.

What are the benefits of bariatric therapies?

Losing excess weight can improve your quality of life. In some circumstances, they have more significant social contacts and are more likely to be employed. The improvement in mental health has also been documented. Bariatric treatment is proven to lessen levels of depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that bariatric therapies, such as gastric sleeve and gastric bypass, can help with cardiovascular, PCOS, and GERD conditions. Furthermore, sleep apnea’s severity is decreased by weight loss. Losing excess weight reduces blood pressure and decreases the chance of developing heart disease.

Benefits of a 30 BMI for Bariatric Patients

The patients at the present time need to have a BMI of 35 or greater to be considered for bariatric surgery. Before being considered for surgery, they must have attempted and failed another form of weight loss plan under supervision. Historically, many patients have been inadvertently encouraged to gain a bit of weight to fit the criteria of being considered for bariatric surgery. Under the new guidance, the patients would only be required to have a BMI of 30 and to have tried and failed a guided weight loss effort before being considered for the surgery.

The updated draft of the obesity guidance shows that the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is considering the BMI guideline changes from 35 to 30.  The lower standard means far more patients would be recommended for the operation. Half a million British not currently able to obtain bariatric surgery will be fitting the criteria and be qualified for the procedure.  This would be an expense; however, it would be less expensive than waiting for patients to develop diabetic-related conditions and other co-morbidities.

These services are paid for by the National Health Service (NHS) with an average cost of between £6000 and £15,000 per patient. If all of the newly eligible individuals have the surgery, the amount to be paid by the National Health Service would be between £6 billion and £15 billion. The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom’s Simon Heller, MD, believes that the NHS will end up paying for it regardless because they will need to treat patients who have not had the surgery that has developed such problems as blindness for their diabetes or myocardial infarction or kidney-related illness due to obesity.

Dr. Simon Heller, an academic scholar in diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolism, stated that the change would raise significant issues relating to the cost and morality of providing these surgical procedures for a situation that is a social disease. He believes that every country needs to think about the choice as a society and that the guidance from NICE has an influence that runs far beyond the UK. Dr. Heller also believes that the change could affect others beyond just the patients and the surgeons, such as the pharmaceutical industry. They will suffer a significant loss if the surgery is adopted widely because there would be many obesity and diabetes-related medications that would not be necessary after successful operations. Dr. Heller also expressed that there would be a need for far more support if the surgery is more widely accepted and performed.

Worldwide BMI Threshold for Bariatric Therapy

Many other countries have similar requirements for accepting patients into bariatric surgery programs. In most guidelines and insurance needs in the United States, bariatric surgery is accessible to patients with a BMI of more than 35 kg/m2. It is likely that if changes are made in the UK regarding the acceptable obesity rates and who is eligible for bariatric surgical procedures, it will spread to other countries. This could ultimately change how patients are looked at for the surgery and give them more options for care before co-morbidities of some types set in.

Centers for disease control (CDC) lowered the qualification for bariatric and metabolic procedures to 35 after the COVID pandemic.

At Mexico Bariatric Center® (MBC), the minimum BMI for qualifying for endo-bariatric therapies is 28, and for bariatric surgery is 30. A body mass index of over 28 with comorbidities increases your chances of being a candidate for bariatric surgery with MBC. Remember, Mexico Bariatric Center doesn’t approve your health questionnaire, our surgeons hand-review each application. Contact our patient care coordinators today to learn more.

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