Tuesday, 31 July 2012

How big is BIG?

Greater Manchester’s weight problem costs the NHS on average 3 million pounds a year. NHS Manchester, NHS Stockport, NHS Trafford, NHS Oldham, NHS Salford, NHS Bury, Tameside and Glossop NHS and NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale collectively have spent nearly £9 million on weight loss surgery over the past three years according to a Freedom of Information Request I submitted. The exact amount is £8,919,559 from April 2009-2012.

It seems quite a staggering figure but what I guess we have to try and remember is that by carrying out the weight loss surgery it should save the NHS in the long run. People who are obese can suffer many health problems that could cost more over some years. When I look into the obesity figures it’s not the cost of it that really shocks me, it's just how big some of the people are who go in for this surgery.

So how big is big? I discovered the person with the largest Body Mass Index over the last three years to have gastric surgery in Greater Manchester had a BMI of 76.7. Let me put that into perspective. You go to any website, NHS document or health booklet and the definition of the run down of BMI’s is as follows:

BMI Classification
18.5 or less

18.5 to 24.99
Normal Weight

25 to 29.99

30 to 34.99
Obesity (Class 1)

35 to 39.99
Obesity (Class 2)

40 or greater
Morbid Obesity

So someone with a BMI of 76.7 should probably not even be alive. Body Mass Index is a fairly good way of checking whether you are a healthy weight. The calculation is your weight divided by your height squared. So let’s get back to our 76.7 BMI, what does that actually mean weight wise? Well if a 5ft 7”in person was 35stone they would have a BMI of 76.7. Even if the person was very tall or very short- you’re still looking at a weigh in of around 30stone. Okay so 30-35 stone isn’t near the World’s Heaviest Man, which is a whopping 88stone, but it’s bigger than your average, considerably bigger.

I always read the headlines ‘Britain has an obesity problem’ and never think too much of it. But I am genuinely alarmed at looking at the BMI figures for those who have gastric surgery in Greater Manchester. I’m slightly worried if I do the same FOI request in a few years time just what the outcome will be. It the mean time, eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis, that’s an order.

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