News Thursday July 3, 2014

UK hospitals see eight-fold rise in obesity cases

Eight times as many people are admitted to hospital as a result of an obesity related condition, in comparison with a decade ago. This is the stark warning given by NHS officials this week.

Over 7,900 patients were admitted to hospitals with common obesity related conditions in 2008 and 2009. This mirrored with figures recorded 10 years previous, is worrying given that there were just 950 cases in 1999.

On top of this increase, the number of people who opt for complex surgery to treat their obesity has risen dramatically. These procedures include stomach stapling and gastric band fitting. In actual fact, the number of patients undergoing weight loss operations more than doubled between 2006 and 2009. In addition to this, prescriptions for obesity drugs have also risen ten-fold since the late 1990s.

What the figures show, say NHS bosses, is a trend towards not only a more obese society, but also a more heavily burdened NHS and an ever growing culture that is seeing drugs and surgery as an easier alternative to exercise and a balanced diet.

NHS under pressure.

The UK obesity epidemic has more than tripled in size since the 1980s, and the rising trend shows no sign of stopping. So how is the NHS coping? At present, obesity costs the NHS £4.2 billion a year. Doctors fear that the taxpayer could be paying twice as much as this by 2050, Unless the nation takes responsibility for their own health.

In the face of such costs, the NHS has already had to take measures in order to cope. Earlier this year it was revealed the health system was ‘rationing’ obesity surgery, only giving it to those in desperate need in a bid to cut down on costs.

Search for solutions

The UK obesity crisis has more than tripled in size since the 1980s, and the rising trend shows no sign of stopping. So how is the NHS coping?

Professor Antony Barnett, clinical director at an NHS trust, calls the situation we are facing in the UK “terrifying”. Blaming obesity for rising numbers of people hospitalised with conditions such as diabetes, he said: “The situation is getting worse and worse, the numbers with diabetes keep mushrooming, and given that these people are prone to a whole range of serious medical conditions, it has enormous impact on NHS resources”.

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