Doctors at a British hospital are the first in the world to fit a teenager with an implant that could help to tackle the growing childhood type 2 diabetes and obesity crisis.
Diabetic Victoria Parr, 17, from Lymington, Hants, was fitted with the EndoBarrier - a non-surgical device placed in the upper intestine via the mouth that reduces the need for medication to treat the condition and aids weight loss.
Type 2 diabetes, which affects more than 2.5 million people in the UK, can run in families, but is also associated with an inactive lifestyle, being overweight and poor diet, and is increasingly common among children and young adults.
The condition develops when a person becomes resistant to insulin - a hormone released by the pancreas to drive glucose (sugar) from the blood stream into muscles and organs to fuel the body.
It increases the risk of heart and kidney failure in the long term, and can lead to stroke, blindness and nerve damage.
The EndoBarrier is a small plastic sleeve which stays in the body for up to 12 months and acts as a barrier to prevent food being absorbed and ensures it bypasses a section of the upper intestine, allowing less time for digestion and improving the resistance to insulin.
Victoria, a beauty therapy student at Brockenhurst College, had the device fitted on the NHS by a team led by Dr Nikki Davis, a consultant paediatric endocrinologist, and James Byrne, a consultant surgeon, at Southampton General Hospital in what the experts said was a world first.
"This is potentially a major addition to the treatments currently available for severe type 2 diabetes and obesity in teenagers, and could help to address the progression of the condition and the early development of complications in an increasing number of cases among children and adolescents," said Dr Davis.
Victoria said of the procedure: "Until now there has not really been anything available for people like me who have been on regular exercise and healthy eating programmes but have been unable to lose weight due to medication or other reasons, but this provides the hope that sufferers can reduce medication to very minor levels and take back control of their body to eventually beat the condition and the complications it can bring in later life."
So far, patients fitted with the EndoBarrier have achieved weight loss of more than 20% (on average 3.5 stone) of their total body weight while requiring less medication.