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14 April 2014, 09:08
A Heart investigation has found the number of people having weight loss surgery in Portsmouth has risen dramatically in the past five years.
145 people had operations including gastric sleeves, bands and bypasses last year, compared to just 14 in 2008.
In 2012, the number was 92.
Nick Carter, a bariatric surgeon at the Queen Alexandra (QA) Hospital in Cosham, says he thinks the rise is because it's become more acceptable and safer:
"The operation is only part of what the patients need to do. They need to completely change their diet habits, they need to exercise more regularly. It's definitely not an easy option."
Meanwhile, Nuffield Health Bournemouth Hospital has reported over 55,000 people in Poole and Bournemouth could be at risk from life threatening illnesses through failing to realise they are obese.
The not-for-profit private hospital on Lansdowne Road received the statistics from an extensive survey of obesity in the UK by Nuffield Health head office.
Investigations showed obesity levels in the South-west region to be above the UK average - nearly 30 per cent of the population across the region was classed as obese with over 55,000 people in Bournemouth and Poole alone presenting with obesity.
The nationally renowned independent healthcare provider also used mapping data provided by CACI to question in detail 3,100 UK adult participants' understanding of their own health and wellbeing, including perceptions about their own weight.
Of the 46 per cent of those who were questioned in the South-west, only five per cent perceived themselves to be obese, instead considering themselves to be overweight.
However, following a Body Mass Index (BMI) test, the results revealed that a much larger group - 13 per cent - were measured as obese, with a BMI of more than 30, with three per cent of this figure presenting as morbidly obese (BMI 40+).
The figures show a clear misconception between what is considered overweight and what is obesity - a medical condition with potentially life-threatening health risks associated.
Despite high-profile public health campaigns, the research also showed a significant lack of understanding among the population about the health risks associated with obesity.
While more than eight out of ten people in the region said they are aware of the link between obesity and increased risk of heart disease (87 per cent) and Type 2 Diabetes (83 per cent), awareness of other diseases is poor:
- Three quarters (75 per cent) are unaware that obesity increases the risk of some cancers, including breast cancer or bowel cancer
- 60 per cent said they are unaware that obesity increases the risk of liver disease, despite one in three UK cases of liver disease now resulting from obesity**
- Over half (53 per cent) are unaware that obesity linked to increased risk of osteoarthritis, and just over a third (37 per cent) aware that obesity is linked to degenerative joints or joint pain
- Almost half (46 per cent) unaware that obesity is linked to increased risk of stroke
- Over half (51 per cent) said they did not consider themselves to be at risk of illness or premature death as a result of their weight
- One in five (19 per cent) said they believed they were suffering a weight related illness or injury
Based on predicted population increases, data from CACI shows that obesity levels are set to increase between one and 10 per cent across the UK by 2018. Experts say that without immediate intervention many local healthcare resources will become overwhelmed by obesity related illness.
GP and Medical Director Wellbeing for Nuffield Health, Dr Davina Deniszczyc, said:
"There is a very big difference between being slightly overweight and clinical obesity. Once BMI reaches 30 the body experiences physiological changes which can put massive pressure the vital organs, increasing the risk of numerous conditions, including heart attack, stroke and liver disease. Across the Southwest, we are seeing a vast number of people unwittingly straying into dangerous medical territory and perhaps not realising that the obesity awareness campaigns are directed at them.
"As healthcare professionals we need to prioritise the health of patients over the risk of 'hurt feelings' caused by a frank and open conversation about their weight. It's important that patients have the information they need in order to make informed decisions about their health. While there is a need to increase access to clinically recognised weight management programmes and treatments, some patients may simply benefit through structured information and goal setting, an exercise regime or through tackling the root cause of their obesity with the help of a support group or a weight management specialist."
Mr Ahmed Hamouda, Consultant Obesity Surgeon at Nuffield Health, said:
"Once obesity sets in, pouring money into ineffective prevention strategies is futile. What we are seeing is an ever increasing group of people who sit in 'No Man's Land', between BMI 30 and 45, and for whom effective treatments and weight loss programmes are either routinely rationed or ad-hoc at best. With regional provision of funded weight loss services so varied, this group will overwhelm local healthcare resources in many areas of the UK.
"As obesity surgeons we know that some private patients are so desperate that they are prepared to put their health at serious risk through increasing their weight to be eligible for weight loss surgery, but surgery should really be the last resort once all other options have been exhausted. That we allow these patients to get to this stage before they can access clinically recognised treatments and programme is not only unacceptable from a public health perspective, but also counter-productive in terms of long-term health costs."