3.6 million Brits are overweight enough for weight-loss surgery

A major new study, published today, reveals that one in 12 (8%) of the nation is so overweight that they could be considered for gastric-band, weight-loss surgery.   The study, carried out amongst over 2,000 adults, reveals that almost a quarter (23%) of Brits have a body mass index (BMI) that classifies them as being ‘obese’.  This compares to 11% in 1999.   The definition of obese is a BMI of 30 and above.

The findings, released by not for profit healthcare organisation Nuffield Health, shows that there is an ever growing misperception of what ‘overweight’ means in Britain.  More than half (57%) of Brits are now ‘overweight’ according to BMI measurements.  And 2.4 million (5%) people are now just two index points away from being considered large enough for weight loss surgery (i.e. have a BMI between 33.0 and 34.9). A man of five feet ten inches who weighs 16.5 stone (BMI of 33.1) is dangerously close to being deemed fit for surgery.

Despite the number of obese people having doubled since 1999, the report’s major cause for concern is the potentially fatal lack of general concern about weight and how it affects peoples’ health.  While Nuffield Health says it has seen a doubling of bariatric (weight-loss) operations in the past year, the research shows that one in six (12%) obese Brits still say they are ‘not bothered’ about their weight. 

The study suggests that while more people are able to correctly identify themselves as being overweight (75% in 1999, versus 89% in 2009); they are extremely reluctant to do anything about it. The report shows that almost one in five (17%) obese Brits are not contemplating any form of weight-loss action.  This is in spite of 42% having been asked by their partner to shift some weight in the past 12 months.

The increasing failure of individuals to do anything about their own weight problems goes some way to explain why the nation is ‘eating itself to death’.  A separate study from the ONS (in March this year) shows the number of obesity-related deaths has leapt by 35% since 2003.

The report also highlights how incredibly reluctant people are to seek professional help with weight loss in the way they might with other medical problems.  Less than one in five (18%) said they would seek out advice from a health professional and only 5% said that they would ever consider weight-loss surgery.

The ‘Nuffield Health - Weight Report’ also exposes the parts of the nation with the highest number of people failing to recognise they are overweight. The denial hotspots are:

1. Cardiff (with 17% of overweight people incorrectly thinking they are healthy weight)
2. London (15%)
3. Norwich (14%)
4. Manchester (13%)
5. Birmingham (9%)

The report also reveals that people in Leeds and Edinburgh are most likely to recognise that they are overweight; only 3% of people in Leeds, and 7% in Edinburgh, failed to recognise that they were overweight.


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3.6 million Brits are overweight enough for weight-loss surgery
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