London, Aug 3 : With obesity crisis getting worse day by day, at least ten people a day are having stomach-stapling operations on the National Health Service (NHS), according to a new study. The Department of Health revealed that the NHS carried out a total of 3,459 gastric bypass operations last year, which is a 14 per cent rise in two years.
The operation works by placing a band around the stomach, which reduces its size, leaving patients with a smaller appetite, and it costs about 8,000 pounds per operation. David Haslam, clinical director for the National Obesity Forum, said thousands more obese people could benefit from surgery if it were more widely available.
Dr Haslam said the procedure simply helped people adapt to modern life, where high-fat food is available in plentiful quantities.
"It is like assisted evolution. If you gave evolution long enough we would adapt to have smaller stomachs and bowels. This just produces it more quickly," the Daily Express quoted him as saying.
The latest figures, released to the House of Commons library last week, show the procedure is becoming increasingly common.
In Hull the number of operations has more than trebled in the past two years from 65 to 207. A similar rise was seen in Somerset, with the number of operations at Taunton Hospital soaring from 23 to 77.
At South Tees Hospital the number of operations more than doubled, rising from 19 to 47.
Some health trusts are reluctant to offer surgery in all but the most extreme cases, forcing some people to go private or even risk surgery abroad.
One study last year suggested up to 700,000 people in Britain could benefit from the operation.
"This is a procedure that can transform lives. It can cure diabetes. People may say it is an expensive operation but in reality it is cheap because it pays for itself in three years through reduction in illness," Dr Haslam said.
"At the moment we have a postcode lottery where some trusts are turning people away on arbitrary grounds," he added.