04 March 2021

Weight warning this World Obesity Day

  • 68% increase in weight loss procedure enquiries in second half of 2020 Vs second half of 2019 
  • 576% more weight loss enquiries July-September 2020 Vs April-June 2020 
  • 64% of those living with obesity have put on more weight during lockdown 
  • 68% say lockdown boredom prompted weight gain 
  • 46% say lockdown has had negative impact on mental health 

The UK’s leading provider of bariatric surgery has reported unprecedented levels of weight loss surgery enquiries during lockdown and is highlighting some of the reasons why this World Obesity Day (4th March).  

Transform Hospital Group (THG), which carries out the majority of the UK’s bariatric surgery, saw weight loss enquiries skyrocket in the second half of 2020, increasing by 68% compared to the same period in 2019.  

While enquiries naturally took a significant dip between April and June 2020 during the tightest lockdown restrictions, they rose sharply in July as curbs began to lift, with enquiries between June and September 576% higher than they were in the previous three months. 

A recent survey of 1000 people living with obesity carried out by the group revealed that for many people, lockdown may have led to weight gain as they turned to food or drink for comfort, or as a result of increased periods of inactivity. The research showed that 64% of those surveyed claimed they have put on weight during lockdown, with 12% gaining 6kg or more and 33% saying they had lost motivation to lose weight. Eating due to feeling bored was the main cause of weight gain for 68% of people, and 46% felt lockdown has had a negative impact on their mental health.[1]

In some instances, lockdown weight gain may have pushed those who were previously classed as overweight into the obese category (with a BMI of 30 or above), and those in the obese category into a worse position.  

Martin Richardson, medical director and weight loss surgeon at THG, said: “Living with obesity is particularly dangerous during the current climate as not only does it pose established wider health implications such as the onset of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, but evidence during the pandemic shows those with a BMI of between 35 and 40 have a 40% increase in risk of death due to COVID-19, which increases to 90% for those with a BMI above 40.[2] 

Over a quarter of the UK population is living with obesity and the number of people experiencing weight problems is expected to rise very significantly in the next 20 years – so this is a very real health crisis which may well have been exacerbated by lockdown, as our enquiry figures and survey suggest. 

THG believes that it is important that people understand what weight loss options are available to them, and that the NHS and independent providers work collaboratively to help deliver these – particularly for those who are at serious risk of obesity-related complications and are unable to lose weight through diet and exercise alone. 

For further details, please visit www.thehospitalgroup.org. 

[1] A Censuswide survey of 1001 UK respondents living with obesity, conducted on behalf of Transform Hospital Group, between 22 and 24 September 2020. 

[2] https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4130