Sunderland Weight Loss Ward TV show ‘opened eyes’ to city’s obesity problem

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A WEIGHT-LOSS specialist believes a TV show set in a Sunderland hospital has succeeded in “opening people’s eyes” to the city’s shocking obesity problem.

But exercise experts fear the programme did little to encourage Wearsiders to get fit through diet and exercise.

Consultant Peter Small with a model of a stomach with gastro band fitted.

Consultant Peter Small with a model of a stomach with gastro band fitted.

Peter Small, a consultant surgeon at Sunderland Royal Hospital, featured in ITV’s recent Weight Loss Ward programme.

The show looked at how the city was tackling its reputation as one of the fattest places in the UK and featured some of the increasing number of Wearsiders now turning to surgery to shed the pounds.

The Echo understands ITV is now speaking with the commissioners of the programme about making further shows.

Mr Small said: “Generally, the feedback has been very positive. While the first programme seemed to concentrate on the complexities of the issue and why people had problems with their weight, the second was much more about the outcomes of the procedures and how positive it can be.”

During 2011, four surgeons performed more than 600 operations on the ward to try and help clinically obese patients change their lives.

Mr Small believes it would be worth programme makers returning to some of the people featured in the programmes, which aired last month and has recently been repeated.

He added: “I believe it would be worth going back to them and seeing how things have changed.”

“I certainly think the programme opened people’s eyes to the fact there is a weight problem. I also think it got across the idea that surgery should always be a last resort.”

More than 40 per cent of adults in the city are currently overweight.

The NHS is already suffering under the strain of the high cost of medication for obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Mr Small said: “Gastric surgery costs about £8,000. If we get patients off the medicines, we recover the cost of the operation in less than two years.”

Twitter: @craigjourno