Increase in obesity-related hospital admissions in Kent

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The number of obesity-related hospital admissions in Kent is at a record high, the BBC has learnt.

Figures obtained by BBC Radio Kent show 377 people were admitted in 2011-12, while in 2006-7 it was 37.

The number of young people undergoing surgery to combat obesity also rose from one per year in 2000 to 31 in 2009.

NHS commissioners have launched an early intervention scheme in some Kent GP practices as a preventative measure.

Sedentary lifestyles

Moya White, a dietician at Darent Valley Hospital, in Dartford, said she was not surprised by the figures as there were still many people over-eating and not really recognising how much of a problem it could be.

Obesity surgery

  • The standard advice for weight control to combat obesity is combining healthy eating and exercise
  • With many people finding this difficult, obesity surgery - known as bariatric surgery - has risen tenfold in a decade
  • One type, restrictive surgery, reduces the amount of food a person is able to consume by decreasing the size of the stomach
  • Malabsorptive operations bypass part of the intestines to reduce the amount of food absorbed into the bloodstream

"In my experience, a lot of people don't worry about it until something happens - a heart attack, they develop diabetes, those sorts of things," she said.

A three-year contract has now been given to private provider 4HealthyWeight, which will offer an early intervention programme across Kent for the first time to identify patients with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30.

It will then work with them to reduce their weight.

Last month, the government also announced it would be introducing a new consistent system of front-of-pack food labelling, showing how much fat, salt and sugar and how many calories are in each product as a way to combat obesity.

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