11 February 2021

Obesity now contributes to more deaths than smoking

Comment on study published in BMC Public Health showing that obesity now contributes to more deaths than smoking

Tony Veverka, CEO of Transform Hospital Group, the UK’s leading provider of bariatric surgery, said:

“The study published in BMC Public Health is the latest evidence that the obesity crisis in the UK is at boiling point.

“That obesity is now contributing to more deaths in England and Scotland than smoking is not surprising, but the long-term lack of meaningful action to address the obesity crisis is, especially when compared to efforts made to tackle smoking over the years.

“These findings underline the need to seriously tackle obesity, both through prevention and treatment, and for the Government’s recently launched Obesity Strategy to go further in certain key areas. We believe that this should include support for the NHS in widening access to bariatric surgery through use of the independent sector, particularly in the wake of the pandemic with the associated increased risk of poorer COVID-19 outcomes for patients living with obesity.

“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 the escalating obesity problem. For many people living with obesity and facing serious risk of life-threatening associated complications, a simple diet change and exercise sometimes is not possible, with bariatric surgery their best solution – however for many this solution is currently beyond reach.

“The study indicates that obesity now, more than ever, deserves the attention and commitment shown in tackling smoking in years gone by, to help reduce further avoidable deaths.”