Tina Malone calls for more weight-loss surgery on the NHS
Shameless star Tina Malone has said weight-loss surgery should be more readily available on the NHS.
A study led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine suggests bariatric surgery (surgical procedures performed on the stomach or intestines to induce weight loss) could prevent thousands of overweight people from suffering serious health conditions and could also save the NHS money in the long term.
During an appearance on BBC Breakfast, the actress talked frankly about the health benefits based on her own experience.
The Liverpool-born star lost more than 11 stone following a gastric band operation in 2010, before undergoing IVF treatment with her husband, Paul Chase.
She paid for her own surgery.
"I injected insulin for 22 years. I was clinically and morbidly obese. I was on amlodipine and lisinopril for heart and blood pressure. I was taking 38 tablets a day for 19 years," she told presenters Bill Turnbull and Louise Minchin.
"I stopped the insulin six years ago. I had the gastric band, lost 11st 4lb, have just had (excess skin from) my arms, my boobs and my stomach removed, I had IVF two years ago, my daughter turned two last week and I'm 53 in four weeks."
The star continued: "My blood pressure is better than my husband who did 10 years in the Army, and Paul is a personal trainer and he's 18 years younger than me. My blood pressure is better now than when I was 25."
A co-author of the study, Professor Rachel Batterham from University College London, said: "Bariatric surgery is safe and produces unrivalled health benefits that are life-changing for patients and cost-saving for the NHS.
"Unfortunately, less than 1% of the patients who could benefit from this surgery currently receive surgery."
Best known for her role as foul-mouthed Mimi Maguire in the Channel 4 drama, Malone documented her dramatic body makeover, including the operations to remove excess skin, in TLC show Tina Malone: My New Body.
Malone pointed to health complications that can result from treating obesity as she called for more NHS funding.
"My opinion is this: the NHS, if you look at the longevity and look ahead, with diabetes type 2 which is essentially controlled by tablets and insulin that we prescribe to people over a period of time, you end up with glaucoma, kidney problems, liver problems, heart problems, all kinds of problems in the long term sometimes leading to amputees."
She continued: "If I were a drug addict or an alcoholic or I was being treated for lung cancer because I smoked - it is treated, and you can't see it. But when you're obese, people can see it so it's very often seen as being something completely different.
"But being obese is a disease, it's the psychological problems that take you to a place where you overeat. People need to be helped. For some people, they need a gastric band on the NHS."
Malone admitted being overweight affected her self-esteem.
"I was that enormous and I was in Shameless and I thought, they're going to need a JCB to roll me on one day. It was not only about being ugly and looking horrific, it was about, primarily, the health."