Sunderland has the highest rate of hospital admissions in the country as a result of obesity, new figures have revealed.
Statistics issued by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show the city had the highest rate of hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of obesity, and the highest rate of inpatient bariatric surgery procedures, which help with weight loss.
According to its “Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet” report, in Sunderland there were 375 admissions, which works out as 135 people per 100,000 of the population who attended hospital because of obesity in 2014/2015.
The total number of hospital admissions across the country with a primary diagnosis of obesity was 9,130.
The majority of these were for female patients, with a total of 73% or 6,630 women admitted, compared to 2,500 for men.
Across the region figures also remained high for admissions, with 152 admissions in South Tyneside, which equates to 102 admissions per 100,000 of the population.
In Gateshead, there were 138 admissions – 69 admissions per 100,000 of the population. In Newcastle, there were 80 admissions, which works out as 28 admissions per 100,000 of the population.
In Durham, there was 507 admissions, which works out as 98 admissions per 100,000.
In Sunderland, the number of people having bariatric surgery procedures to help with weight loss, such as gastric bands, was 64 per 100,000 of the population, between that same period. This type of surgery also includes stomach stapling, gastric bypasses and sleeve gastrectomy.
Such surgery is used in the treatment of obesity for people with a BMI above 40, or for those with a BMI between 35 and 40, who have health problems such as Type 2 diabetes or heart disease.
Nationally, during 2014 to 2015, 6,030 bariatric surgery procedures were recorded, with 4,590 procedures carried out on women, compared to 1,440 for men.
This shows a worrying increase in the amount of people who are classed as obese.
Overall, the prevalence of obesity has increased from 15% in 1993, to 26% in 2014.
Morbid obesity, one of the conditions for which bariatric surgery may be considered, has tripled since 1993 from 1% to 3%.
In 2014, almost 4% of women were considered morbidly, obese compared to 2% of men. The figures come from data from the HSCIC’s Hospital Episode Statistics, as well as data from the Prescribing Unit at the HSCIC, on prescription items dispensed for treatment of obesity. Commenting on the figures Sunderland City Council director of Public Health, Gillian Gibson, said the high level of obesity in the city is something the council are working to tackle.
She added: “Obesity is a regional and national issue that the city council and its public health partners are working together to address.
“It is one of our most significant and complex challenges, undermining individual and family health and wellbeing, impacting on business and education, and contributing to significant costs for health and social care services.
“Over the last 30 to 40 years we have changed how we shop and where we eat.
“Food is now more readily available; more heavily marketed, promoted and advertised and eating habits have changed with increased consumption of convenience and fast-food.
“Another factor is that people are also less active in their work and leisure time.
“Across Sunderland there are established programmes in place offering both help and support on healthy eating, physical activity and nutrition. We will continue to work with all our community health partners to promote the healthy lifestyle messages and local services.”
In the report, the Health and Social Information Centre said the risk of poor health increases sharply with increased BMI.
They said: “Obesity is estimated to be the fourth largest risk factor contributing to deaths in England, after hypertension, smoking, and high cholesterol, according to the NHS Atlas of Risk1.”