New research shows that the benefits of gastric banding could go beyond weight loss, says Ayesha Muttucumaru

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Obese people who have gastric surgery to help them lose weight could halve their risk of heart attack, new research from the University of East Anglia reveals.

The first comprehensive review of the impact of procedures like gastric banding, or bariatric surgery, on heart disease, stroke and death showed that death rates were reduced by a staggering 40 per cent, compared to obese people who did not undergo surgery.

According to Senior Author Dr Yoon Loke from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, “Obesity is a worldwide problem with significant consequences for individuals and society. It is associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, many cancers and a shorter life expectancy.

“The latest government figures from 2011 show that obesity affects about one in four people in the UK and this figure is growing. These findings suggest that surgery should be seriously considered for obese patients who have a high risk of heart disease. This is the right time for a large, high-quality trial of bariatric surgery in the NHS to confirm the potential benefits.”

MORE GLOSS: Why are we so fat?

Bariatric surgery is currently available on the NHS for selected patients. This new research is sure to shine the spotlight further on how we can solve the current obesity epidemic. How do you think we should tackle the problem?

GTG's Susannah Taylor and Sarah Vine sat down with fitness expert Matt Roberts, Olympic gold medalist Victoria Pendleton, Director of International Model Scouting at Premier Model Management Emma Mackie and nutrition expert Karen Cummings-Palmer to discuss the problem in part one of our Body Debate. Watch our expert panel here .