The International Diabetes Federation Taskforce on Epidemiology and Prevention of Diabetes convened a consensus working group of diabetologists, endocrinologists, surgeons and public health experts to review the appropriate role of surgery and other gastrointestinal interventions in the treatment and prevention of Type 2 diabetes. The specific goals were: to develop practical recommendations for clinicians on patient selection; to identify barriers to surgical access and suggest interventions for health policy changes that ensure equitable access to surgery when indicated; and to identify priorities for research. Bariatric surgery can significantly improve glycaemic control in severely obese patients with Type 2 diabetes. It is an effective, safe and cost-effective therapy for obese Type 2 diabetes. Surgery can be considered an appropriate treatment for people with Type 2 diabetes and obesity not achieving recommended treatment targets with medical therapies, especially in the presence of other major co-morbidities. The procedures must be performed within accepted guidelines and require appropriate multidisciplinary assessment for the procedure, comprehensive patient education and ongoing care, as well as safe and standardized surgical procedures. National guidelines for bariatric surgery need to be developed for people with Type 2 diabetes and a BMI of 35 kg/m(2) or more. Copyright © 2011 J.B. Dixon, P. Zimmet, K.G. Alberti & F. Rubino. Reprinted from Diabetic Medicine, Volume 28, Issue 6, pages 628-642, June 2011, Wiley-Blackwell. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.