Weight loss surgery is being performed too late in Scotland, with severely obese patients having a quality of life similar to people dying of cancer, a study has suggested.
The research was led by the Universities of Glasgow and Lancaster.
It found people being assessed for weight loss surgery in Scotland are older and have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) than the international average.
Patients who were oldest and had the highest BMI had a quality of life that was equivalent to cancer patients receiving palliative care, the study found.
The researchers said the commissioning of weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, appears to be a low priority within the NHS.
Those receiving surgery generally do so after years of alternative treatments, at a point when their BMI is extremely high and they are 47 years old on average.
Jennifer Logue, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Lancaster, said: “Our findings demonstrate that we need to act much earlier to ensure that people with severe obesity are not significantly disabled by the time they are receiving treatment.
“We also need more research to understand the health effects, as well as the best treatment of very severe obesity.
“Policy makers must consider the health and care needs of these individuals and invest to provide increased access to effective weight management.”
The study looked at 445 people scheduled for bariatric surgery at 14 surgery centres in Scotland. The patients were recruited between 2013 and 2016.
The research is published in BMJ Open.