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Obesity surgery on the increase

The number of people having obesity surgery in the UK has increased by more than 40%, resulting in pressures on both public health budgets and healthcare staff, it has been claimed.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley announced the figures, which show that in 2006/07, 3,459 gastric bypass operations were carried out on the National Health Service (NHS) in England, up 41% on the 2,448 figure for 2005/06.

“The number of operations will continue to rise sharply in the future unless we do a lot more to encourage people to be more active and eat more healthily,” Mr Lansley said.

“The Government is failing on reducing obesity, which is sadly unsurprising given that public health budgets and dedicated staff have been cut by Labour.”

NHS figures released in February showed that over a million prescriptions for obesity drugs were given out to patients in 2006 – more than eight times the 127,000 figure for 1999.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said that obesity surgery should only be used in very extreme cases and is not a “quick fix” solution. “We’re in danger of treating the symptom rather than the underlying causes,” he added.

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