Dangerously obese children will be entitled to stomach-stapling surgery on the NHS, it was reported last night.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) is finalising its recommendations for the treatment of obese children and adults to be published next month.
Procedures including stomach-stapling would be offered to children who would otherwise stand a high risk of developing cancer, diabetes or heart conditions.
Obesity specialists have told Nice that the procedure, properly called bariatric surgery, is cost-effective, according to The Observer. The restriction of the stomach causes patients to lose weight and, over time, learn to eat sensibly.
The newspaper says that children with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 40 would be eligible for NHS-funded operations that typically cost £8,000. A normal BMI measure is between 18 and 25.
It is thought that between 50 and 200 teenagers a year may have their stomachs stapled if the guidelines are accepted.