Obesity-related hospital admissions up says NHS Digital

By Editor
5th April 2018
NHS England, Type 2 diabetes Type 2 prevention

Admissions to NHS hospitals where obesity was recorded as either a primary or secondary diagnosis increased by 18 per cent within a year, according to new figures.

There were 617,000 admissions in 2016/17 compared to 525,000 during 2015/16, NHS Digital has said. Of the latest figures, 10,705 admissions had obesity recorded as the main cause, an increase on 9,929 admissions in 2015/16.

The details were revealed in the Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet; England, 2018 report, an annual compendium of new and previously published figures on obesity, including hospital admissions, prescription items, prevalence among adults and children as well as physical activity and diet.

The publication of the report comes ahead of the introduction of Soft Drinks Industry Levy dubbed the Sugar Tax, which comes into force on Friday, April 6.

Also this week, NHS England reported announced a “sharp decline” in the sales of sugary snacks and drinks in hospitals as part of a campaign to ensure healthier confectionary in secondary care.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity, at NHS England said: “We have been clear that the growing obesity crisis sweeping the country is a public health crisis and the evidence backs it up. Obesity is associated with heart attacks, cancer, type 2 diabetes and a number of other illnesses – causing personal suffering and costing the health service and in turn the taxpayer, billions every year. And for all of those conditions, wherever possible, prevention is preferable to cure. Our own sugar restrictions, the new sugar tax and the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme are all part of what needs to be a concerted effort to address obesity.”

The obesity report also revealed that here were 6,760 Finished Consultant Episodes (FCEs) for bariatric surgery in 2016/17, a five per cent increase on 2015/16 (6,438). Of these, 77 per cent of the patients were female, the report said.

However, NHS Digital also found that the number of items prescribed by primary care for obesity treatment decreased by 10 per cent in 2017 (401,000 items) on the previous year (449,000. The Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) also continued the same downward trend, falling from £9.9m in 2016 to £6.9m in 2017.

The report also stated that adult obesity prevalence stood at 26 per cent in 2016, having remained around this level since 2010, while child obesity prevalence in 2016/17 was 10 per cent in reception year and 20 per cent in year six.

A total of 66 per cent of men and 58 per cent of women aged 19 and over met the government’s aerobic guidelines in 2016, while 21 per cent of men and 25 per cent of women were classed as inactive in 2016. The proportion of children meeting government physical activity guidelines rose from 21 per cent in 2012 to 23 per cent in 2015 for boys, and from 16 per cent in 2012 to 20 per cent in 2015 for girls.

The report went on to report that 24 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women consumed the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day in 2016. It also said that 16 per cent of children consumed the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day in 2016, falling from 23 per cent in 2014.

The figures come as NHS England claimed a victory in its efforts to cut the sales of sugary snacks and drinks in hospitals.

So far 152 of 232 NHS trusts have signed up to the scheme to reduce sales of ‘SSBs’ – sugar sweetened beverages.

And new figures show that curbing the sale of chocolate and unhealthy sandwiches means hospital staff, patients and their friends and family have consumed 632 million fewer calories over the last year.

Last year, NHS England ordered hospitals to take super-size chocolate bars and ‘grab bags’ of sugary snacks off of the shelves. While data is still being collected, some of the headline results from several of the suppliers involved so far include:

  • A large hospital retailer removed advertising and promotions on NHS estates and has sold over 1.1 million fewer single chocolate bars in the last year, and removed 275,000 (23 per cent) large bars of chocolate.
  • The removal of 1.1 million single chocolate bars equates to 264 million fewer calories, while the reduction in the number of large chocolate bars is equal to 161 million fewer calories – when combined this means almost 425 million calories have been removed by this retailer alone.
  • An additional 175,000 pieces of fruit have been sold in hospital stores.
  • The Royal Voluntary Service has worked with suppliers to make healthier sandwiches, that now account for more than half of the total sales.
  • Compass Group has revealed a further 132 million calories have been removed from the top five sandwich products sold in hospitals.
  • The Royal Voluntary Service has changed their range of sandwiches to reduce calorie intake by over 75 million calories a year.
  • Retailers including Royal Voluntary Services, WH Smith and M&S are running a healthy meal deal exclusively in hospitals, with no sandwiches over 400 calories and no unhealthy snacks.

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