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Southampton research part of national drive to tackle obesity BRC

Southampton researchers are contributing to national obesity research, identifying the most effective surgical approaches to obesity, and looking at helping those with schizophrenia manage their weight better. 

The BIG Challenge

Consultants James Byrne and Prof Richard Holt feature in a new national campaign, The BIG Challenge launched by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to highlight how research is helping tackle our rising rates of obesity.

Their work compliments research conducted in our NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, aimed at preventing childhood obesity.

Levels of obesity have tripled in the last 30 years with over 60 percent of adults in England overweight or obese, and more than 2.7 million people suffering from obesity-related type 2 diabetes. The BIG Challenge focuses on how clinical research will help the NHS address the obesity epidemic, and help those interested in taking part in studies find out more – you can read more about this campaign here.

Surgical treatment of obesity - The By-Band-Sleeve study

The By-Band-Sleeve study aims to identify the most effective bariatric (obesity treatment) surgery for patients’ health and cost to the NHS, with over 300 patients across England. Those taking part in By-Band-Sleeve will have an equal chance of being assigned any of the three kinds of bariatric surgery currently used in the NHS; gastric band, a gastric bypass, or a gastric sleeve.

bybandsleevev3resizeJames Byrne, consultant surgeon at University Hospital Southampton, is delivering the By-Band-Sleeve study at Southampton, discussing participation with patients referred to us for bariatric surgery.

It is the latest study in James’ research, conducted through the multidisciplinary bariatric surgical research group he created in Southampton, involving patients, public health, health economic and diabetes and endocrinology experts to drive better bariatric surgery.

Obesity and mental health - the STEPWISE study

Those with schizophrenia are two to three times more likely to be overweight or obese compared with the wider population, which is thought both to contribute to their 10 to 20 year lower life expectancy, and deter them from taking their medication.

Prof Richard Holt, consultant physician at University Hospital Southampton and professor in diabetes and endocrinology at the University of Southampton, is exploring whether or not changes to lifestyle could help those with schizophrenia better manage their weight.

"In general terms people with schizophrenia die some 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population and the majority of those deaths are actually attributable to physical illness rather than their mental illness,” explains Prof Richard.

"The commonest cause of death among people with severe mental illness is in fact cardiovascular disease and obesity is a very important risk factor for cardiovascular disease."

Open since March 2015 the study has been received positively amongst those involved including clinical staff, people diagnosed with schizophrenia, and those who have had a first-episode psychosis.