Wales lags just behind USA in obesity stakes, warns doc
WALES'S obesity "epidemic" is so bad that it lags just behind world leader the USA and it is getting worse, an obesity doctor has warned.
Dr Nadim Haboubi said a lack of NHS resources in Wales meant thousands of people were missing out on essential surgery and community help.
He said that the NHS in England intervened earlier to prevent related health issues such as diabetes.
The Welsh government said health boards were deciding where to focus resources.
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Dr Ian Millington, secretary of Morgannwg Local Medical Committee, said people needed to follow a healthier diet to halt the epidemic.
He added: "It's worrying because they are in a situation where in America obesity is a huge problem and we are following a trend we wouldn't want to follow. The problem centres around people's diet."
Obesity doctor Dr Haboubi said a lack of funding has led to only 50 people being operated on each year at the Welsh Institute of Metabolic and Obesity Surgery, based at Swansea's Morriston Hospital.
Currently around 5,000 people meet the criteria for bariatric surgery, including gastric banding or gastric bypasses, which limits their stomach capacity.
He also stressed that the criteria in Wales for surgery is stricter compared to England.
In England, people must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 with related health problems, such as diabetes or sleep apnoea, or 40 without. In Wales, he said the figure was a BMI of 50 with related health problems — meaning patients can only be operated on once they are in poor health.
Dr Milington said it would be difficult to reconsider the criteria for bariatric surgery given the current financial climate.
"At a time when there is such a hard financial problems how do you prioritise it with their cardiac problems," he added.
"There's not enough money to go around."