There has been a dramatic rise in the number of people admitted to hospital for problems caused by obesity, new figures have shown.

Over the past five years, the number of people needing care because they were very overweight has jumped by 360 per cent and by 60 per cent in the past year alone. The figures relate to a primary diagnosis of obesity – for example, treatment for breathing problems, Type 2 diabetes, circulation or organ failure, or heart disease all caused by being overweight. People admitted for weight-loss surgery such as stomach stapling are also included in the data.

There were 8,085 admissions for obesity in 2008-09 in England – a 60 per cent rise on 2007-08 (5,056) and a 360 per cent rise on 2003-04 (1,746). Overall, there were 14.2 million hospital admissions in 2008-09, a 5 per cent increase on 2007-08 (13.5 million) and a 20 per cent increase on 2003-04 (11.8 million). Just over five million of these were emergency admissions, 5 per cent (260,000) more than in 2007-08 when emergency admissions stood at 4.8 million. The number of day cases reached 5.2 million in 2008-09, compared to 4.8 million in 2007-08.

Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, which released the report, said: "Our figures show continuing increase in NHS admissions to hospitals, which are now in excess of 14 million. The large increase in admissions for obesity reflects the growing impact that obesity has on the health of our nation as well as the demands it is placing on limited NHS resources. However, it also reflects the fact that overweight people are resorting to treatments... to tackle their health problems."