A growing number of UK patients are seeking private obesity surgery because they are unable to access treatment on the NHS, it has been revealed.
The National Obesity Surgery Centre, which is the UK's leading private provider of gastric balloons, said that it has carried out more procedures than ever over the last 12 months.
In fact, the number of gastric balloons and gastric bands fitted by the Manchester-based company rose by 350 per cent in 2008.
The centre has now opened three new clinics and taken on new staff to accommodate the influx of patients, many of whom were frustrated by the NHS' inability to cope with the growing demand for obesity surgery.
Barrie Crabtree, director of the National Obesity Surgery Centre, commented: "In addition to the well-publicised increase in adult obesity levels - now standing at one in four UK adults - the risks associated with obesity are becoming more prevalent in the news.
"There therefore seems to be a greater awareness from people that they need to take action sooner rather than later."
The NHS may well need to cope with even more obesity surgery patients in the future, as paediatrician Professor Julian Shield has called for obese children as young as 15 with type-2 diabetes to be eligible.