NHS hospitals are being forced to turn patients away because of the large number of people seeking obesity surgery.
Surgeons are increasingly unable to meet the huge demand for the surgery, which limits the amount of food that patients can consume and helps to boost weight loss in morbidly obese patients.
"The situation is really dire," revealed Dr Nick Finer, an obesity specialist at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.
Speaking to the Observer, Dr Finer commented: "The NHS must somehow find the money to treat these patients, who otherwise face the prospect of a lot of disability and a premature death."
Dr Finer added that the kind of rationing being experienced by obesity surgeons would not be tolerated in the field of cancer treatment.
Obesity surgery is normally considered for patients whose body mass index (BMI) exceeds 35 but a number of NHS trusts have increased the limit at which patients will be considered.
In some areas of the UK a patient would need to have a BMI in excess of 45 in order to be eligible for surgery, leaving many patients with no choice but to seek private treatment or go without the procedure.