Health authorities across the world were being urged Tuesday to use weight-loss surgery earlier in the treatment of people with type 2 diabetes to reduce the serious complications that can result from the disease.

An International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) position paper presented Monday in New York said that bariatric weight-loss surgery -- including gastric bands and bypasses -- was a cost-effective treatment.

It also warned that the combination of obesity and diabetes was one of the biggest public health epidemics in human history.

More than 300 million people across the world have diabetes, with that number expected to climb to 450 million by 2030, according to the foundation.

"Bariatric intervention is a health- and cost-effective therapy for type 2 diabetes and obesity with an acceptable safety profile," said IDF spokesman Professor Sir George Alberti, of Imperial College London. "Bariatric surgery for severely obese people with type 2 diabetes should be considered much earlier in management rather than held back as a last resort."