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Obesity admissions double in four years

Published on 05/04/18 at 09:45am

New figures show that hospital admissions related to obesity have doubled over the last four years in the UK, placing an increasing strain on an NHS strapped for resources.

The NHS Digital data revealed that 617,000 appointments were made in 2016-2017 that had obesity as either primary or secondary diagnosis. In 2012-2013, the number of appointments where this was the case was 292,000. From the previous year, 2015-2016, admissions were up by 18%.

Obesity is related to a number of health problems that often require surgery, such as cancer, hip and knee replacements, and cardiovascular disease.

10,705 of the appointments held in 2016-2017 were directly related to obesity treatment, including bariatric surgery.

One of the interesting statistics pulled up by the data was that the majority of individuals receiving appointments were women. In total, 72% of individuals being admitted were women being given obesity treatment.

This is despite the fact that men are more likely to have a higher BMI than women, 40% compared with 30%. The numbers of men and women classified as obese are also very close, with 26% against 27%. The figures suggest that women are more likely to take action on their weight.

In addition to the worrying obesity figures, there were further details released that point towards the reasons why the UK is now struggling with a growing population of individuals classified as obese.

Figures showed that 25% of women and 21% of men were identified as inactive in 2016; in addition, just 16% of children consumed the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day in 2016.

The pressures that the NHS is facing has led some clinical commissioning groups taking controversial action to reduce expenditure; Bath and North East Somerset CCG, for example, will refuse IVF treatment for women whose male partner has a BMI over 30, following NICE guidelines that they are more likely to have issues with fertility.

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “These statistics reveal we still have a long way to go to tackle childhood obesity and ensure every child is given the best start in life. The shameful truth is a child born into poverty is likely to have worse health outcomes than a child born into wealthier circumstances.”

Tomorrow marks the introduction of the sugar tax in the UK, whereby the sugar content of soft drinks will see their price increase. The effort is a small action in an attempt to combat childhood and adult obesity; many companies have already changed recipes of popular drinks to avoid the prices of their products going up.

Ben Hargreaves

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