Merseyside tackles obesity rates

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Royal Liverpool Hospital. Pic: JMU Journalism

Royal Liverpool Hospital has invested in beds for the obese. Pic: JMU Journalism

More people will be entitled to gastric band surgery to tackle the obesity problem in Liverpool.

Figures published last month highlight the issue of the eating epidemic in Merseyside as obesity is a particularly big problem in Knowsley, which has the highest rate in the North West and affects more women than men.

Being overweight puts strain on the body and can increase the risk of long-standing illness and cause high blood pressure.

Body Mass Index is the most accurate way to measure obesity; no specialist equipment is needed so it is an accurate way to determine whether a person is overweight by adding their height and weight calculation together. People with a BMI of more than 40 are entitled to help on the NHS.

In January two supercentres were opened in Countess of Chester and Fazakerley hospitals which are unique to the UK. As many as 3,000 people in Merseyside are in need of help on the NHS, but currently only one in 300 people are entitled to surgery. The two hospitals are now hoping to increase the operations, giving 1,000 people access to the surgery.

Three out of four gastric band operations are a success, but sometimes complications can include internal bleeding and even death. Being very overweight can increase the chances of developing side effects.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “We are already taking the lead to help people make healthier choices — by working with industry we have helped to reduce fat, sugar and salt in foods and thanks to the Change4Life campaign we are targeting more and more children and families with information on how to eat well, move more and live longer.

“From April, local authorities will be given a ring-fenced budget of £5.4bn over two years by the Government to help tackle public health issues such as obesity in their communities. But this is not just a matter for Government — we look to industry, health professionals and voluntary groups to work jointly to help individuals improve their diet and lifestyles.”

Last week it was revealed that Merseyside hospitals have collectively invested £300,000 on bariatric beds to cope with the rise in obese patients.

The Liverpool Convention Bureau recently announced that they will be hosting the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in May which will discuss the latest scientific developments in the treatment and prevention of obesity.

More than 3,000 scientists, clinicians and health professionals will attend the four-day event which will bring in approximately £5million to Liverpool.

About Sara Ainsworth, JMU Journalism