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Rise in obesity surgery procedures

28th May 2008

There has been a sharp rise in the number of people undergoing obesity surgery to help them lose weight, new figures show.

The number of gastric bypass operations increased by 41 per cent between 2005-6 and 2006-7, from 2,448 to 3,459.

The rise in obesity surgery procedures reflects the growing demand for obesity drugs, with recent figures showing that the number of prescriptions in 2006 was more than eight times higher than in 1999.

Conservative shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley, who revealed the obesity surgery figures, said that they “reflect the human and financial cost of obesity”.

“Gastric bypass surgery is a last-ditch solution and the number of operations will continue to rise sharply in the future unless we do a lot more to encourage people to be more active and eat more healthily,” he warned.

The sentiments were echoed by the Liberal Democrats’ shadow health secretary Norman Lamb.

Mr Lamb said that the government’s failure to tackle obesity was “one of its biggest embarrassments”.

He added: “The government is now spending an enormous amount on treating obesity and not nearly enough on prevention. We’re in danger of treating the symptom rather than the underlying causes.”

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