Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 12:22 UK

Big increase in obesity surgery

Obese woman
Patients must want to change their lifestyle before surgery is allowed

The number of obese people being given surgery in Devon to help them lose weight has risen dramatically over the last two years.

In 2008, 110 people were given either gastric band or bypass surgery compared with 64 in 2007, according to NHS figures.

The cost of this surgery was an estimated £605,538 in 2008, up from £499,066 in 2007.

The cost of prescription drugs for obesity in 2008 was £689,775.

'Top priority'

The figures, which include Torbay and Plymouth, come as NHS trusts try to reduce the number of obese patients.

The NHS in Devon is offering overweight people help with changing their diets and lifestyle.

But for patients who are morbidly obese, surgery may be the only option.

Surgery is only given to patients who show a commitment to changing their lifestyle and are fit enough for surgery.

Dr Virginia Pearson, director of public health for NHS Devon, said: "Preventing obesity is a top priority for NHS Devon.

"We run a range of programmes across Devon for people over 16 who want advice on becoming more active, eating a healthier diet, stopping smoking or sensible alcohol consumption."

Health trainers were offering personal health plans for overweight people.

Dr Pearson said: "We are also encouraging parents and carers to take more responsibility to ensure their children take part in more physical activities and have an improved diet."

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