15% rise in obesity-linked NHS hospital admissions

NHS Digital obesity hospital admissions
09/05/2019 - 09:38
NHS figures show a rise of 15% to 711,000 in the number of people admitted to hospital in 2017-18 where obesity was recorded as a primary or secondary diagnosis.

The figure in 2016-17 was 617,000, with NHS Digital advising that ‘some, though not all, of this increase may be due to hospitals being more likely to record obesity as a secondary diagnosis than they were previously’.

Doctors are thought to be reacting to how obesity contributes to conditions ranging from knee problems and maternity complications to heart failure and breathing difficulties.

There were 10,660 admissions where obesity was judged the main cause, compared with 10,705 the year before, though this is double the number from 10 years ago. Three quarters of these patients were women and the peak age group of admissions for obesity was 45-54.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, is reported in The Times as saying: “With almost 100,000 more hospitalisations in just one year, this is the latest evidence that obesity is causing deadly diseases including 13 types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes and type 2 diabetes, while putting increasing strain on NHS staff and services.”

The data for children present a more mixed picture, with NHS Digital reporting: “The prevalence of obesity has increased in year 6 from 20.0% in 2016-17 to 20.1% in 2017-18. For reception it remained similar at 9.5% in 2017-18.

“Over a longer time period, obesity prevalence is lower for reception compared to 2006-07 but higher for year 6 compared to 2009-10. Severe obesity prevalence is similar for reception but higher for year 6 over the same time periods.”

It added: “There is a strong relationship between deprivation3 and obesity.

“In both reception year and year 6, obesity prevalence was over twice as high in the most deprived areas than the least deprived areas.”

The figures from NHS Digital show that of the 6,627 people who had bariatric surgery in 2017-18, two were under 16 and 153 were aged 16-24. In 2007-08 only 2,742 people had the surgery, which is available on the NHS for obese people with a recent diabetes diagnosis.

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