£30m. bill to treat obese adults in East Lancashire

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ONE in four adults in East Lancashire is obese – and this costs the health service £30m. a year.

Shock statistics, released by NHS East Lancashire, also show that this amount is expected to double to £60m. by 2050.

The projected cost of obesity is nearly eight times more expensive than the combined cost of all the hip replacement operations, knee replacement surgery and cataract treatments paid for by NHS East Lancashire in the last year.

Health bosses say a reduction in obesity could free up funds to pay for life-enhancing treatments. In the past year, 565 people were treated, and the estimated cost of obesity by 2050 could fund a further 11,500 hip operations.

Meanwhile, cataracts – where the eye’s lens becomes cloudy and can lead to blindness – cost more than £700 to remove, with almost 2,000 procedures carried out in East Lancashire over the past year.

The money expected to be spent on treating obesity-related conditions could fund cataract removal surgery in East Lancashire for the next 42 years, restoring the eyesight to more than 85,000.

Dr Mike Ions, a GP from Brierfield, who is also chairman of NHS East Lancashire’s Professional Executive Committee, warned of the economic and emotional effects of rising obesity: “The rising tide of obesity will cost East Lancashire dearly.

“Aside from the money spent on treating people with obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and immobility, the emotional effect will be devastating, as obese people will generally have a poorer quality of life.

“It’s vital people empower themselves to improve their health. Health professionals don’t want to nag, our job is to support people to make better health choices.”