MORE than five times as many women are being admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital with a primary diagnosis of obesity than men.
According to latest figures, 207 women were admitted in 2011/12 compared to just 37 men.
The North East Strategic Health Authority (SHA) had the highest admission rate at 56 per 100,000 of the population; while East of England SHA had the lowest rate (12 per 100,000).
Nonnie Crawford, director of public health for Sunderland, said: “These obesity related hospital admissions figures across the country are of serious concern and highlight a trend that increases the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes and strokes in those affected.
“In Sunderland we are taking a proactive stance toward obesity which partly explains our particularly high levels of admissions.
“We deliver a specialist service available to those who come through a rigorous pathway to identify need, offering bariatric surgery to those who require it.
“We offer the full range of obesity related managed services identified by NICE as evidence based and appropriate practice for treating the disease.
“Confronted with ever rising levels of obesity our approach demonstrates we are meeting need, not just managing demand.
“We offer services in Sunderland that are not available in many other hospitals across the country and have been offering these services over a number of years, increasing uptake of referrals made by our GPs who are aware of the bariatric treatment available.
“Of course we would prefer to not have to make these referrals but it is about responding to a need in our current population together with implementing programmes that will address these issues in future generations.
“As part of this there are a range of services available to help people with healthy diets and encourage physical activities including slimming and exercise on referral initiatives for adults and the Lifestyle Activity and Food (LAF) programmes for children.
“It is about intervention as well as prevention; so we must educate and take a more direct approach perhaps implementing some of the proposals suggested in the Academy of the Medical Royal Colleges’ recent report such as a tax on sugary drinks.”
Sunderland also had the highest number of weight loss surgery procedures in the North East.
Professor Stephen Singleton, interim chief medical director for NHS North of England, said: “The North East has some of the highest levels of obesity in the country, and these latest figures on hospital admissions reflect the scale of the issue and the serious impact that it has on people’s health.
“They are a stark reminder of how unwell those with obesity can become.”