The number of people admitted to hospital because of obesity has more than tripled in just five years, according to the latest official figures from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
Between 2011-12, there were 11,736 cases of people that were admitted to hospital because of obesity, with some admitted more than once for the same reason.
According to The Guardian, those statistics are 11 times higher than the 1,019 cases recorded in 2001-02 and more than three times higher than the 3,862 admitted between 2006-07. Additionally, in almost every year, more than twice as many women were admitted as men.
The highest rate of hospital admissions were found to be in the north-east of the UK (56 per 100,000 of the population), while the lowest were in the east (12 per 100,000).
But while half of women aged 16 and over were a normal weight in 1993, this proportion has now fallen to 39 percent. For men of the same age, the proportion dropped from 41 to 31 percent over the same period.
The only slight silver lining in these alarming figures comes from the statistics for children. Although almost a third of children aged 2-15 were considered overweight or overweight or obese in 2011 — 31 percent of boys and 28 percent of girls — the figures have hardly changed since and there have been suggestions that the rise is leveling off.
According to the study, the cause of obesity in the vast majority of adults in the UK is a lack of, or not enough, exercise. In 2011-12, 36 percent of adults — 41 percent of them men and 31 percent women — took part in moderate-intensity sporting activity at least once a week for 30 minutes.
Among children, only 43 percent between the ages of 5-16 walk to school and only two percent cycle. A third are driven to school.
Amy Thompson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said:
“These figures hold a mirror to the state of the country’s health – and it is not a flattering reflection. The number of people who are overweight or obese is steadily climbing and unhealthy lifestyle choices are helping us along this path. After our Olympic year, it is a sad fact that only a third of us manage 30 minutes of physical activity once a week, when we should all be aiming for 150 minutes every week to keep our hearts healthy.”
The study also looked dietary intake. It found that only 24 percent of men and 29 percent of women ate the recommended five helpings a day of fruit and vegetables in 2011, with figures among girls aged 5-15 dropping to 20 percent and among boys for the same age falling to 16 percent.
In response to the study, UK politician, Diane Abbott, the opposition public health minister, said the government was not doing enough.
“I think it’s time that action was taken on huge ‘drink-it-now’ cinema soft drinks, and also the explosion of junk food vending machines in schools.”
“Action on obesity needs to include local authorities using their powers to control the numbers of fast-food shops, particularly around schools. We must also see much more work to maintain nutritional standards, and to educate young people about nutrition and cooking basic foods. Parents also need support and information.
“Campaigners like Jamie Oliver have said this government is a disaster for children’s health. But it’s made worse because we’re seeing a nutritional recession, with rising food prices and shrinking incomes driving up consumption of fatty foods and reducing the amount of fruit and vegetables we buy.’”