North Essex: Weight-loss surgery more than doubles

THE number of people undergoing weight-loss surgery in north Essex has more than doubled in two years, new figures reveal.

Some 50 patients had gastric band or gastric bypass operations carried out in 2011/12, compared with 22 in 2009/10.

During 2010/11, there were 14.

The figures, released by North East Essex PCT under a freedom of information request, show the total cost of to the NHS was �529,175.

In mid Essex, the numbers have declined, from 17 in 2009/10 to 11 in 2011/12.

In Suffolk too, the numbers have dropped from 62 to 35 over the same period.

The surgery is used as a last resort to treat people who are clinically obese. Weight loss is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach so smaller amounts of food are needed to make patients feel full, or through a gastric bypass, where the digestive system is re-routed past most of the stomach so less food is digested.

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NHS guidelines state that it is only to be used on people with potentially life-threatening obesity who will not respond to non-surgical treatments, such as lifestyle changes.

Director of Public Health for NHS North East Essex Dr Mike Gogarty, said: “Rising obesity levels is a national issue and is a situation mirrored in north east Essex. We treat obesity as a priority and offer a range of services to support and advice people to live healthier lifestyles.

“Very few people need surgery due to being obese, but in some cases it can become a necessary step. Surgery is never an early option and is only considered when a person is facing a serious threat to their health due to being overweight and when other forms of treatment have not been successful.

“In north east Essex we have a three year strategy in place, which closely involves GPs, to help reduce the rise in obesity levels, raise awareness of the health risks of being overweight and to promote healthier living and well being.”

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