A British 17-year-old girl has become the first overweight teenager to be fitted with a revolutionary device that treats obesity and diabetes.
Victoria Parr, from Lymington, Hampshire, had the plastic tube - known as an EndoBarrier - inserted down her throat and placed in her upper intestine.
So far the device has been fitted in around two dozen adults but Miss Parr is the first adolescent in the world to have the treatment.
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.
The procedure is performed under a short general anaesthetic and sees patients return home within three hours. There is a low risk of complications and it is reversible.
Doctors say the tube, that costs around £2,000 per patient, could become a cheaper and safer alternative to gastric bands that cost £7,000.
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.
Dr Davis said: 'Victoria’s is a particularly severe case in that she was unable to tolerate a number of different medications for type 2 diabetes and has rapidly progressive diabetes despite trying very hard with diet and exercise.
'This meant she had to rely on insulin injections to control her diabetes, which we know can prevent weight loss.'
She added: 'This is potentially a major addition to the treatments currently available for severe type 2 diabetes and obesity in teenagers.'
Victoria said: '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.
'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 per cent (on average 3.5 stone) of their total body weight while requiring less medication.
Foster carer Kim Currie, from Southampton, was fitted with the device in December in 2010 when she weighed 20st. By April 2011 she had lost three stone and needs fewer drugs to control her diabetes.
She told Daily Mail last year: 'I want to lose another stone, and after the EndoBarrier is removed, I know I’ll continue my new healthy lifestyle.'
The sleeve is also performing as well so far as the more invasive gastric band procedure in helping weight loss.
Mr Byrne said: 'Over the course of a year we expect Victoria to reset her metabolic clock and she will be given support throughout to sustain the health benefits once the device is removed, which should then help her to maintain the reduced need for medication and, possibly, eliminate it altogether.'