Obesity prescriptions up eight times in UK

The number of prescriptions to treat obesity and overweight health problems in 2006 was increased eight times the number prescribed in 1999 in UK, revealed by Information Centre for health and social care (IC) as part of a wider report on obesity and the health of people in England.

In 2006, 1.06 million prescription items were dispensed for the treatment of obesity. Overall, the number of prescriptions in 2006 was more than eight times the number prescribed in 1999, when there were 127 thousand prescription items.

Two main drugs – orlistat (Xenical) and sibutramine (Reductil) – made up the bulk of the prescriptions issued by GP practices in England.

In 2006, 24 per cent of adults (aged 16 or over) in England were classified as obese. This represents an overall increase from 15 per cent in 1993.

Men and women were equally likely to be obese, however women were more likely than men to be morbidly obese (3 per cent compared to 1 per cent).

37 per cent of adults had a raised waist circumference in 2006 compared to 23 per cent in 1993. Women were more likely then men to have a raised waist circumference (41 per cent and 32 per cent respectively).

Using both BMI and waist circumference to assess risk of health problems, of men 20 per cent were estimated to be at increased risk, 13 per cent at high risk and 21 per cent at very high risk. Equivalent figures for women were 14 per cent at increased risk, 16 per cent at high risk and 23 per cent at very high risk.

In 2006, 16 per cent of children aged 2 to 15 were classed as obese. This represents an overall increase from 11 per cent in 1995. Despite the overall increase since 1995, the proportion of girls aged 2 to 15 who were obese decreased between 2005 and 2006, from 18 per cent to 15 per cent. There was no significant decrease among boys aged 2 to 15 over that period.

Boys were more likely than girls to be obese (17 per cent compared to 15 per cent).

Of children aged 8 to 15 who were classed as obese, two thirds (66 per cent) of girls and 60 per cent of boys thought that they were too heavy.

Source: Information Centre, UK

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