Healthy living

Weight loss operations continue to rise

Weight loss ops continue to rise Twelve per cent increase in a year

The number of weight-loss operations rose by 12 per cent last year, according to an NHS report.

In 2010/11, some 8,087 weight loss operations were carried out in England compared with 7,214 in 2009/10.

The report also revealed there has been a 30-fold increase in weight loss operations in the last decade, from just 261 in 2000/01. 

Figures for recent years also include operations to maintain existing gastric bands, rather than fitting new ones. Of the 8,087 procedures for weight-loss bariatric surgery carried out in 2010/11, some 1,444 were for maintenance of an existing band.

Weight loss or bariatric surgery is performed on people who are morbidly obese, and usually carried out after other attempts at weight loss have failed, and the person has obesity related health conditions.

Gastric band surgery reduces the size of the stomach with a surgical band while a gastric bypass re-routes the small intestines to a small stomach pouch.

Another surgical procedure known as a sleeve gastrectomy removes a portion of the stomach.

A primary diagnosis of obesity is made when the person has been admitted to hospital with health  problems specifically caused by obesity.

[Related feature:  Surprising health problems of being obese]

The North East of England had the highest rate of admissions with a primary diagnosis of obesity (40 per 100,000 of the population), followed by the East Midlands (36 per 100,000) and London (35 per 100,000).

The South West, South Central and North West had the lowest rates, with 14 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of obesity for every 100,000 of the population.

For the first time in seven years, the number of prescription items dispensed to treat obesity fell by 24 per cent, from 1.4 million items in 2009/10 to 1.1 million in 2010/11. This is most likely due to the withdrawl of two drugs from the market - sibutramine and rimonabant - that were formerly used to treat obesity.

[Related story:  Anti-obesity drug banned in Europe]

Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, said: "The report charts the growing impact of obesity on both people's health and NHS resources. It also examines changes in physical activity and diet.

"Those working in this field may want to examine closely the findings of the report, including the significant regional variations that appear to exist in both the admissions for obesity and those for weight-loss stomach surgery."

This article was published on Fri 24 February 2012

Image © Danny Hooks -

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