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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Dozens of Cumbrians admitted to hospital because they’re fat

Overweight Cumbrians were admitted to hospital 73 times because of obesity, new figures have revealed.

Obesity photo
Excess weight causes many problems

The statistic, published by experts at the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), were released just weeks after the county was named as the fattest in England, with more than three-quarters of the population being overweight or obese.

The research shows there have been dozens of hospital admissions in the county as a result of obesity. Of the 73 during the last year, in which obesity was described as their “primary” diagnosis, 36 were serious enough to need a referral to a consultant.

A primary diagnosis of obesity means they were admitted purely because of their weight. No details of the conditions of the patients have been revealed but could include conditions that are made worse by obesity, such as asthma and breathing difficulties during sleep.

Fifty seven of the referrals to hospital were for women and 16 men.

The HSCIC figures also reveal that 2,489 hospital admissions in Cumbria last year were for patients whose secondary diagnosis – their underlying medical condition – was also obesity.

Prof Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England (PHE), which covers Cumbria, said everyone had a role to play in tackling obesity, particularly in children.

“Overweight and obesity costs the NHS more than £5bn each year and is it entirely preventable,” he said. “PHE is committed to helping to tackle obesity through a range of approaches that support action on the local environment to make eating less and being more physically active, easier.”

He said local authorities were “ideally placed” to tackle overweight and obesity in the local population.

“Many local authorities are already working hard to reduce obesity levels,” he added. “PHE is committed to supporting local government and the local NHS. People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Excess weight can also affect self-esteem and mental health.”

PHE figures classed Cumbria as the fattest county in England, with 68.3 per cent of people overweight or obese, followed by North Yorkshire and Staffordshire, both on 67.9 per cent.

The worst area in Cumbria was Copeland, with 75.9 per cent of people overweight or obese. In Carlisle, 68.4 per cent were overweight, 68.8 per cent in Eden and 66.5 per cent in Allerdale.

A Cumbria County Council public health spokesman said people generally needed to eat less and move more. The county offers a free COOL4Life programme through school nurses, while adults can access the county’s dietetics service through their GP. He added: “For those people who are very overweight, the NHS provides bariatric surgery. This includes support to lose weight through natural means before an assessment is made as to whether surgery is appropriate.

“These measures can only ever tackle the symptoms of obesity. Getting to grips with the underlying causes requires action across society.”

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