Figures show that a growing number of people are seeking prescribed obesity treatment
in a serious bid to lose weight.
According to data published by the Information Centre for health and social care (The IC), 1.06 million prescribed obesity treatment items were dispensed in England in 2006.
This represents an eightfold rise since 1999, when just 127,000 prescriptions were dispensed.
The IC data shows that the majority of prescriptions were for sibutramine
which works by altering the chemical messages to the brain and making you feel more full, and for orlistat
which blocks nearly a third of the fat that you eat from being absorbed into your body.
However, Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the Faculty of Public Health, expressed concern that obesity treatment drugs are being prescribed before other weight loss options have been exhausted.
The expert told the BBC: "Doctors and other health professionals do not have the time to spend on the in-depth diet and exercise advice that is really needed.
"So my fear is that these drugs of last resort are actually used quite early on. It is too easy to turn to the prescription pad."