A regional daily newspaper has secured a front-page splash after an FoI request revealed an alarming rise in hospital patients being treated for obesity.
The investigation by the Ipswich Star showed a 183pc increase in adults being treated for serious weight problems at the town’s hospital in the last five years.
The FoI request, which was made by health reporter Lizzie Parry, revealed that 683 patients were admitted with obesity recorded in their notes in 2008/09 – compared to 1,936 last year.
She also interviewed Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, and Dr Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for health, about the dangers of being dangerously overweight.
“I initially put the FoI into Ipswich Hospital to find out how many children and infants had been admitted with obesity included within their diagnosis,” Lizzie told HTFP.
“With so much emphasis on rising rates of childhood obesity I wanted to find out how many children were so severely overweight that they had ended up in hospital.
“After the request came back, within the 20-day period, the results for the number of adults admitted showed a huge increase over the five years and ended up making us a splash.”
The Archant newspaper’s article also informed readers that patients who are obese – a fact determined by their Body Mass Index (BMI) – face a greater risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, suffering increased blood pressure putting them at risk of heart attacks and stroke, as well as a greater recovery period after surgery.
“These figures must act as a warning shot across the bows of a growing problem,” said Dr Poulter.
“Even though this is a small percentage of the total number of patients admitted at the hospital each year, it may be that there is under-reporting in the number of patients who are recorded as being obese.
“It is very alarming that for nearly 2,000 patients a primary health problem relating to their hospital admission is obesity.”