Hospital admissions for obese people show big jump in England

Obesity played a role in just over one million hospital admissions in England in 2019/20 – a 17% jump on the previous year.

New data from NHS Digital shows a rise in the number of people admitted to hospital where obesity was a primary or secondary factor.

Women accounted for almost two thirds (64%) of the hospital cases, while obesity admissions were twice as likely in the most deprived areas of the country compared to the least deprived.

A total of 1,022,000 hospital admissions overall had obesity as a primary or secondary factor, a 17% rise on the 876,000 the year before.

Within these figures, there was a 3% drop in the number of admissions where obesity was the major reason – most of those cases were admissions for weight-loss, bariatric surgery.

Hospital admissions in England where obesity was primary or secondary factor
(PA Graphics)

NHS Digital said some of the overall rise may be due to better reporting of data.

The Government has announced a raft of new measures to help tackle obesity, including a ban on junk food adverts online and calories on menus for meals.

Boris Johnson, who once pledged to review “stealth sin taxes” such as those on sugary drinks, has thrown his weight behind new obesity measures after saying his own extra pounds played a role in his struggle with Covid last year.

The NHS Digital study also found that the number of prescribed items for obesity treatment dropped by 17% in 2020 to 294,000 items from 355,000 the year before.

The cost of these drugs fell 16% in 2020 to £8.8m.

Some 27% of men and 29% of women in England are obese, while about two thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

Children living in the most deprived areas are more than twice as likely to be obese than those living in the least deprived areas.

Overall, 9% of adults are classed as inactive.