Obesity costs health service pounds 200m a year: 'Most preventable cause of illness' is increasing, report says

OBESE PEOPLE are costing the health service nearly pounds 200m a year, according to a report published today, which says that obesity in men has risen by 50 per cent in eight years.

While it is the 'most preventable' cause of ill health, the Office of Health Economics (OHE) says that it costs pounds 30m to treat obesity alone but another pounds 165.5m through the contribution obesity makes to strokes, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and other diseases.

At the same time, Britons pay pounds 80m a year for non-prescription products in the form of replacement meals, another pounds 5.5m on slimming magazines and an untold figure on other slimming products.

Richard West, research associate at the OHE, says in the report that obese people can also expect to pay more for life insurance.

A separate study of nearly 1,000 GPs in Northern Ireland, published last week, found one in five said that they would give obese people lower priority even when their medical needs were the same as a slimmer patient's.

The report from the OHE, a research body founded by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, says: 'Medical personnel contribute to making fatness a social handicap . . . Some doctors perceived fat people as weak-willed, ugly and awkward.'

Mr West says the profile of obesity must be raised among health professionals if the increase in obesity is to be stemmed.

'We are currently witnessing an upward trend in the prevalence of obesity, with over half of the male population and two in five women being overweight,' the report said.

'An estimated 20 million adults in the UK are overweight, with six million of these being obese.'

Recent data revealed that the number of people calculated as obese - at least 20 per cent more than the ideal weight for height - has risen by over 50 per cent among men since 1986-87 and by 25 per cent among women.

The report says the cost of treating obesity in the NHS is pounds 13.8m for general practice; pounds 8.3m for in- patients; pounds 850,000 in out-patients; pounds 2.9m for pharmaceutical services and pounds 3.5m for dieticians.

The other costs are calculated by taking the known cost of, for instance, stroke at pounds 550m and assuming that 'a conservative 5 per cent' of strokes result from obesity, giving a cost of pounds 27.5m. Similarly the cost for heart attacks is pounds 7.5m; diabetes pounds 100m and arthritis pounds 30m.

But obesity is no longer a condition of the rich. One survey of 5,362 people shows that men and women in manual and non-skilled social classes were significantly more likely to be overweight by the age of 36 than non-manual workers.

Reduced calorie diets for most overweight people are recommended, together with a change in eating habits to provide more fresh fruit and vegetables and less sugar and animal fat.

For the severely obese, very low calorie diets for short periods, anorectic drugs or surgery including jaw wiring are available.

Obesity; Office of Health Economics, 12 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY; pounds 7.50.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Manager

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a white-ha...

Recruitment Genius: Operations and Administration Support Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Solar P...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Specialist

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is changing the way at...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor