Obesity puts 30 a day in hospital as number undergoing surgery trebles in four years

More than 30 Britons are being taken to hospital a day because they are dangerously obese, figures show.

The numbers admitted for obesity surgery or problems caused by their excess weight has trebled in the last four years.

Figures from the NHS Information Centre show that last year 11,740 patients were taken to hospital with an obesity-related condition, compared to just 3,876 in 2006/7.

The numbers have risen by a tenth in the last 12 months - there were 10,716 such admissions in 2009/10.

Overweight: The obesity epidemic costs the NHS £4.2billion each year

Overweight: The obesity epidemic costs the NHS £4.2billion each year

It is estimated that the NHS spends £4.2billion every year treating patients for obesity-related illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes – as well as on costly weight-loss surgery.

These include gastric band operations which costs £6,000 per patient as well as gastric bypass surgery – which splits the stomach into compartments so patients feel full more quickly – at £10,000 a time.

Around 70 per cent of the hospital admissions last year are likely to have been for surgery to help the obese lose weight such as gastric band fittings or gastric bypass.

The remaining 30 per cent comprise patients brought in with problems caused by their excess weight such as bedsores or breathing difficulties at night.

The figures also show that nearly three quarters of patients are women, despite the fact that levels of obesity between the genders are very similar.

Doctors say that women are more likely to want surgery than men, who tend to be more embarrassed.

Hospital: 30 people a day are admitted for conditions related to obesity

Hospital: 30 people a day are admitted for conditions related to obesity

Nearly a quarter of adults are classified as being obese and some experts have predicted that over the next ten years this will rise to 40 per cent.

But concern is growing that the Government is not doing enough to tackle the problem.

Jamie Oliver: The celebrity chef has criticised the Government's efforts to improve nutrition

Jamie Oliver: The celebrity chef has criticised the Government's efforts to improve nutrition

Last month an obesity strategy produced by health secretary Andrew Lansley was heavily attacked by doctors, charities and even Jamie Oliver, who described it as 'woefully inadequate'.

The action plan essentially told the public to eat less and exercise more but did not put any pressure on junk food firms to cut back on levels of salt, sugar and fat.

Mr Lansley has also resisted making companies put calorie labels on their products to help the public chose healthier options.

Surgeons who specialise in 'bariatric' surgery say they have seen a steady increase in obese patients being referred from GPs - including children as young as 13.

Marcus Reddy, a consultant surgeon at St George's Hospital in South London said: 'The number of referrals has gone up by ten or 20 per cent every year in the last five years.'

He said the hospital normally carried out surgery on two adolescents every year, some as young as 13.

There has been some controversy in the past as to whether the NHS should pay for such costly operations for the obese.

Gastric band operations cost £6,000 a time while gastric bypass surgery is around £10,000.

But Mr Reddy said it was a very 'cost effective' way of treating the problem, and in the long term it would save the NHS money as patients would be less likely to need hospital treatment for obesity related problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

'We know it’s cost effective. If you were an accountant you would say it is money very well spent,' he added.

Under guidelines produced by the health watchdog NICE, only the most obese patients with a Body Mass Index over 35 can have obesity surgery on the NHS.

This is the equivalent of a 6ft tall man weighing 18 and a half stone, or woman who is 5ft5 weighing 15 stone.

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