Obesity in the UK is a growing problem, as people juggle the demands of modern lifestyles, with easy access to high calorie foods and sedentary jobs.
The term “obese” describes someone who is overweight, with increased body fat. And it's a common problem in the UK. The UK’s government’s official statistics, for example, revealed that in 2015, 58% of women and 68% of men were overweight or obese1.
As well as putting a significant strain on the UK’s public services, obesity creates major health implications for the individual concerned. It lowers life expectancy and is considered – alongside smoking – to be a key contributing cause of cancers, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.
Diet is a major factor in the UK’s obesity problem. Just over a quarter of UK adults ate their recommended daily five or more portions of fruit and vegetables in 20152. And with almost half of all men and roughly four in 10 women eating fewer than three potions of fruit and vegetables each day, it’s definitely time to stock up your fruit bowl.
A lack of exercise is also driving up the numbers of people with a body mass index over 30 (obese). So whether it’s a jog, cycle, swim – or even a gentle stroll around the local neighbourhood – it’s never been more important to turn off the TV, get off the couch and get some blood pumping around the body. We also know that inactivity increases as we get older, so it’s crucial to make the extra effort as the years go by.
Tackling the growing size of UK waists is going to need a determined and coordinated approach from individuals, organisations and the state. On current forecasts, more than half of the UK is expected to be obese by 20503. Steps like the introduction of the sugar tax have been welcomed, but ultimately the only person who can make the major changes is the individual concerned.
This may seem daunting, but there are thousands of success stories across the UK that offer hope and inspiration: people who decided enough was enough, committed to improving their lifestyle and diet, and are now reaping the rewards of a healthier life and increased confidence.
Many countries outside the UK use surgical procedures to help reduce the obesity epidemic. There are three main types of bariatric surgery, as it is sometimes known:
1. Gastric band – this involves using a band to simulate the feeling of being full through additional nerve stimulation and stomach compression.
2. Gastric bypass – this works by making your stomach smaller through bypassing part of your stomach and intestines, so you absorb fewer calories.
3. Sleeve gastrectomy – this is where part of the stomach is removed, so you can't eat as much as you could before surgery and you'll feel full sooner.
Gastric band surgery is probably the most popular method of bariatric surgery. Having a gastric band fitted involves at least one night’s stay in hospital, and most patients need a week off work immediately after the procedure. But a gastric band is not an instant fix: they’re designed to help you lose weight gradually, with your lifestyle and diet having a major impact on how much weight you eventually lose. For most patients, it takes four to six months of tightening the band to get to the point where you are consistently and comfortably losing weight.
In 2015/16, there were almost 6,500 of these procedures in public hospitals. But France, which has a similar population size to the UK, carried out 37,000. Belgium (12,000), Italy (8,000) and Sweden (7,000) also carried out more weight loss surgeries than the UK, despite having smaller populations.
Opting to go ahead with any type of weight loss surgery is a major decision. Like any surgical procedure, it should not be undertaken on a whim. But if you have tried dieting and exercise and found you still haven’t secured the results you are looking for, weight loss surgery – such as gastric band, bypass or sleeve surgery – could be the best way forward.
At The Hospital Group, we have used gastric band surgery to help some patients lose more than 10 stone in weight – giving them a huge opportunity to reshape their health and their life. If you would like to find out more information from the UK’s only weight loss surgery provider to offer up to six years’ aftercare.
Are you ready to start your weight loss surgery journey?
1 Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, National Statistics, 30 March 2017
2 Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, National Statistics, 30 March 2017
3 Obesity in UK ‘could be far worse than predicted’, The Guardian, 13 January 2014