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According to the report, published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, surgical errors, a lack of staff and equipment, as well as a poor assessment of the needs of overweight people are too often putting the health of such patients at risk.
Analysing incident reports relating to obesity between 2005 and 2008, doctors from Central Manchester University Hospitals found that 389 of the 555 patient safety incidents reported related to obesity.
More than one in 10 of those incidents caused moderate harm to the patient, while four suffered severe harm and three sadly died.
Anaesthesia issues, where medical staff had difficulty ventilating a patient or clearing the airway, accounted for 63 incidents, and 27 further cases involved critical care - notably pressure sores, surgical errors and deep vein thrombosis.
The report noted that obese patients are sometimes unintentionally harmed during surgery and may receive insufficient medication because their weight has not been taken into account, highlighting the need for more staff and better training.
Lead researcher Dr John Moore said: "The occurrence of incidents resulting in severe harm or death highlights the specific dangers associated with the care of the obese patient.
"Further planning and development of operation policies is needed to ensure the safe delivery of healthcare to patients."
Experts estimate that more than half of British women and almost two-thirds of men are likely to be obese by 2050.
What do you think - with rates of obesity on the rise, should the NHS put more money into staff and equipment that better provides for the needs of overweight patients? Leave a comment below...