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Obesity-related hospital admissions increase in England, new report shows

February 20, 2013: Female admissions almost triple the number of male admissions

Hospitals in England reported 11,740 inpatient admissions with a primary diagnosis of obesity in 2011/12, new analysis from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows today.

This is one per cent more than in 2010/11 (11,570) and triple the number recorded five years earlier (3,860 in 2006/07).

Female admissions were almost three times the number of male admissions (8,740 compared to 2,990); continuing the recent pattern of female admissions being substantially higher than male admissions.

Regionally, North East Strategic Health Authority (SHA) had the highest admission rate at 56 per 100,000 of the population; while East of England SHA had the lowest rate (12 per 100,000).

Today's report: Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England 2013; brings together several sources of recently published information to provide a comprehensive picture of obesity related issues in England.

It also includes information about hospital inpatient admissions with a primary diagnosis of obesity and a procedure of bariatric surgery (procedures performed to help weight loss; including stomach stapling and gastric bypass), which shows that in 2011/12:

  • Hospitals recorded 8,790 inpatient procedures; nine per cent more than in 2010/11 (8,090) and over four times more than in 2006/07 (1,950).3
  • Females continue to account for the majority of such procedures; with 6,710 procedures for females and 2,080 procedures for males.
  • East Midlands SHA had the highest procedure rate at 36 per 100,000 of the population (1,620 in total); while North West SHA had the lowest rate (six per 100,000, or 460).

The report also shows that fewer than two in five adults (37 per cent) in England are classed as a 'normal' weight according to Body Mass Index (BMI), although this proportion has remained between 36 per and 38 per cent since 2001.

Half of women (50 per cent) aged 16 and over were a normal weight in 1993, but this proportion had fallen to 39 per cent by 2011. For men of the same age, the proportion dropped from 41 to 31 per cent over the same period.

Just over a quarter of women (26 per cent), and just under a quarter of men (24 per cent) were classed as obese in 2011, while 58 per cent of women and 65 per cent of men were classed as either overweight or obese.

HSCIC Chief Executive Tim Straughan said: "It won't have escaped the majority of people that obesity is a high profile issue in this country. This annual report is important in bringing clarity to how this actually affects people, patients and the NHS, from the weighing scales to the operating theatre.

"Based on the Body Mass Index measurement, the proportion of adults estimated to be of a normal weight has dropped substantially since this report's time series began in 1993. This data, along with the breadth of other obesity related information in this report, will be of interest to the public as well as health professionals and policy makers."

The full report can be viewed at:


Notes to editors

  1. HSCIC was previously known as the NHS Information Centre. It is England's authoritative, independent source of health and social care information. It works with a wide range of health and social care providers nationwide to provide the facts and figures that help the NHS and social services run effectively. Its role is to collect data, analyse it and convert it into useful information which helps providers improve their services and supports academics, researchers, regulators and policymakers in their work. The HSCIC also produces a wide range of statistical publications each year across a number of areas including: primary care, health and lifestyles, screening, hospital care, population and geography, social care and workforce and pay statistics.
  2. Hospital information presented in this report is derived from Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), which is compiled from data sent by more than 300 NHS trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) in England and approximately 200 independent sector organisations for activity commissioned by the English NHS. Today's data reflects inpatient admissions only and does not include wider activity such as that carried out in an outpatient setting. Activity settings may vary between trusts. HES is reliant upon the accurate and complete recording of data. HSCIC liaises closely with organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies; while this brings about improvement over time some shortcomings remain.
  3. Practices vary between hospitals as to whether some bariatric procedures are carried out in outpatient or inpatient settings. This may particularly be the case for maintenance procedures. OPCS-4.5 introduced a specific code for maintenance of gastric band. OPCS-4.5 was introduced in 2009/10. Use of this code may have contributed to the increase seen from this year. The data presented in this report are for inpatients only, so may not reflect all hospital activity. This should be considered when interpreting the data as practice may vary over time and between regions.
  4. 2006/07 is used as the base year for hospital information as clinical coding for obesity and bariatric surgery has developed significantly, with meaningful comparisons only able to be drawn in more recent years.
  5. Examples of health problems that overweight people are at increased risk of developing health conditions including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and cancer. The term "bariatric surgery" is often used to define a group of procedures that can be performed to facilitate weight loss although these procedures can be performed for conditions other than weight loss. It includes stomach stapling, gastric bypasses and sleeve gastrectomy. Admissions where there is a primary diagnosis of obesity means the main reason the person has been admitted to hospital is due to health problems specifically caused by obesity.
  6. Each procedure for bariatric surgery refers to a finished consultant episode (FCE). This is a continuous period of admitted patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. FCEs are counted against the year in which they end. Figures do not represent the number of different patients, as a person may have more than one episode of care within the same stay in hospital or in different stays in the same year. Admission refers to a finished admission episode (FAE). This is the first period of inpatient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. FAEs are counted against the year in which the admission episode finishes. Admissions do not represent the number of inpatients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year.
  7. As this report includes information from a range of sources, the definition of obesity may vary very slightly. However in general terms obesity is defined by an adult's Body Mass Index (BMI), which is determined using a calculation of the person's weight and height.  A Normal weight is seen as a BMI of 18.5- <25kg/m2; Overweight as a BMI of 25-<30kg/m2 and Obesity as a BMI of 30kg/m2 or greater. A BMI cannot be used in the same way for children as this is more complex as age and gender are also considered.
  8. For media enquires please call 0845 257 6990 or contact
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