The number of people having weight loss surgery in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin has more than trebled in the last year, new figures have revealed.
The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust has said 26 patients booked to have weight loss surgery, otherwise known as bariatric surgery, in the county in the first two months of this year – compared to just eight during the same period in 2013.
The statistics were obtained in a Freedom of Information request by Sally Harris, leader of the LighterLife weight loss group based in Telford.
Mrs Harris, who is 56 and has struggled with her weight for decades but never turned to surgery, said she was concerned about the sharp increase.
She said: “It is a worry that it seems so many people are turning to weight loss surgery instead of trying to lose weight on their own.
“For the number of people to book any type of weight loss surgery to more than treble, I feel it is a sign of the times and the attitudes of people.
“I have heard of people who have gastric bands but still have their fix of food by liquidising chocolate bars and the like.
“I know of someone who had a gastric band fitted but still struggles with her weight, it is about changing your mindset towards food.
“There is a perfect example – in 2012 a man called Rob Gillet (CORR) from Bridgend appeared on the Channel 4 show Supersize v Superskinny weighing more than 41 stone, he lost four stone after the show but quickly put it back on.
“The following year he joined his local LighterLife group and has now lost 29 stone, or 70per cent of his body weight.”
Operations for weight loss such as the fitting of a gastric band or gastric bypass surgery are currently available on the NHS to treat those with potentially life-threatening obesity.
The statistics from the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust include one person who has booked to have a gastric band fitted this year.
But researchers claim more than two million adults in England could be eligible for weight loss surgery.
Some 8,000 people receive the treatment each year in the UK, but the Imperial College London say more than 5per cent of adults would qualify, which equates to more than 2.1 million people.
Their study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, found that surgery rates were estimated to be a third of the NHS’s benchmark rate.
A spokesman for The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust said: “In selected cases, bariatric surgery can assist with weight loss.
“It is a decision that should not be taken without serious consideration as it has appreciable risks and is by no means a cure.
“Bariatric surgery produces a substantial amount of weight loss, which can be vital in achieving life-long weight management, and it can significantly reduce the risk of serious health complications.”
The spokesman also confirmed that because Shrewsbury and Telford & Wrekin is a designated centre for bariatric surgery, the Trust now receives referrals for patients from within the county and beyond.
Mrs Harris’ LighterLife group meets every Tuesday evening and Friday morning at Cornerstone House, Stafford Park 13, Telford.
She holds therapy sessions and members pay a weekly amount for the group meetings and food packs on either the Total programme, which is total meal replacement, or the Lite programme, which is three packs a day plus a healthy meal.
She added: “After the age of five we start eating for emotions, we don’t know what physical hunger is because there is always food around.
“We eat to cope, when we are bored, because other people are eating, because there is food in front of us, because we are tired, because it’s a special occasion, because the clock says it’s time to eat or because the food is cheap or free – not because we are hungry.”
For more information on LighterLife search for it on Facebook or contact them on Twitter @lighterlife. To contact Mrs Harris call 03332 001617 or 07940872989, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.lighterlife.com/sallyharris.
J&PR are a Shropshire PR agency covering Shrewsbury, Telford, north Shropshire, south Shropshire and parts of Mid and North Wales. As well as working with businesses, organisations and events across the region on PR campaigns J&PR run regular DIY PR Training Courses and DIY Digital PR Training Courses at venues in the county.