PRESS RELEASE: OCT 2020
Decision makers urged to improve access to bariatric surgery in fight against obesity.
62% of clinically obese people (those with a BMI of 30 and over) in Scotland feel the UK Government’s new obesity strategy could go further to support them, according to a survey by one of the UK’s leading providers of bariatric surgery.
Tony Veverka, CEO of Transform Hospital Group, believes the UK Government’s newly launched plan should include allowing the NHS to make use of independent sector capacity for these procedures, bolstering the UK’s ability to address the obesity issue, particularly given the compelling evidence that obesity significantly increases the risk of death from COVID-19.
A Censuswide survey of 1001 UK respondents living with obesity, conducted on behalf of Transform Hospital Group, revealed that 69% of Scottish respondents feel the new strategy measures will have little or no impact on their wellbeing*, with 44% saying they would like to see improved access to bariatric surgery in the UK.
The survey also showed that 40% of those living with obesity say their mental health has been negatively impacted as a result of lockdown**, with 28% feeling less motivated to lose weight now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
63% of those surveyed claim they have put on weight during lockdown, with 16% gaining 6kg or more in weight. Eating due to feeling bored was the main cause, with 66% citing this as a cause of their weight gain.
With future tighter lockdowns looming, Transform Hospital Group feels this compounds the need for urgent action.
Mr Veverka says: “Obesity is one of the biggest health crises facing our country and we welcome the Government’s strategy. There are many beneficial elements including the ‘Better Health’ campaign which calls on people to embrace a healthier lifestyle and to lose weight if they need to. However, we believe that it stops short of holistically tackling the issue for those already living with obesity.
“For those who are currently at serious risk of life-threatening complications associated with obesity, the results of this survey show that more urgent action is needed. We believe improved access to bariatric surgery should be a key part of the obesity strategy, and that independent healthcare providers and the NHS should work in partnership to help deliver this.
“This is particularly important when considered in the context of the increased risk of COVID-19 complications for patients who are overweight.
“Bariatric surgery is often dismissed as a ‘quick fix’, however our experience shows that when combined with other measures, it can be part of a long-term solution to this escalating issue.
“Research shows bariatric surgery outcomes include dramatically improving or even immediately reversing type two diabetes, significant early and sustained weight loss, a reduction in heart attacks, development of diabetes, cancers and strokes, and increased life expectancy, thus reducing pressure on and spend for the NHS.
“We urge the UK and Scottish governments to permit the NHS to partner with independent providers in the provision of bariatric surgery to ensure a robust, multi-faceted strategy to tackle obesity.”
The survey of 1,001 people with a BMI of 30 or over was carried out between 22 and 24 September 2020. 103 respondents were from Scotland.
*This statistic has been calculated by combining those who answered ‘No impact’ and ‘Little impact’.
**This statistic has been calculated by combining those who answered ‘Somewhat negatively’ and ‘Very negatively’.