Almost 15,000 people were admitted to hospital due to obesity in South Yorkshire last year – as the number of seriously overweight people soars around the region.
The NHS said 14,832 people visited hospital in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster last year and were given a primary or secondary diagnosis of obesity.
In Sheffield there were 3,555 obesity-linked hospital admissions in 2011/12. Of those, 2,787 were women – almost four times more than the 768 men.
And across the county more than 270 people were given drastic surgery, including gastric bands and stomach stapling, to tackle weight problems. In Sheffield surgery was given to 41 women and 12 men.
This year is the first time figures for Sheffield have been released – but statistics show obesity has shot up in Yorkshire and the Humber.
In 2010/11 there were 23,883 obesity-linked hospital admissions, while in 2011/12 there were 31,015 - an increase of more than 7,000.
Kellyanne Sharman, who runs healthy eating and fitness classes for the Manor and Castle Development Trust in Sheffield, said she was ‘not surprised at all’ – and blamed apathy brought on by poverty.
“There are a lot of people who can’t be bothered,” she said. “People are lacking funds. If you go to the Job Centre, there is nothing out there.
“But I do think there is a barrier for some people around eating healthily. They think you have to buy expensive fruit and veg and you don’t .”
Kath Sharman, leader of the Shine Health Academy in Sheffield, agreed that obesity is ‘a rising problem’. “It’s a killer. No-one is taking the time to look at the underlying causes,” she said.
Coun Mary Lea, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for health, said the authority has a number of schemes in place, such as projects offering support with healthy eating and physical activity.
“In Sheffield we are determined to tackle the issue of obesity before it leads to people having serious health problems or hospital treatment,” said Coun Lea.
A spokeswoman for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals said surgery is only considered as a last resort after careful assessments. “This is because bariatric surgery is a major procedure which in itself carries risks for patients who are morbidly obese,” she added.
In Barnsley there were 1,142 hospital admissions with 82 patients needing surgery, and 1,928 in Rotherham, with 66 operated on. Doncaster was the second-worst place in the country for obesity-related hospital visits, with 8,206 admissions.