Obesity drug prescriptions rise eightfold since 1999
Obesity drug prescriptions have risen eightfold since 1999, report finds
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Prescriptions for obesity drugs in 2006 were more than eight times the number prescribed in 1999, statistics have revealed today.
Overall 1.06 million prescription items were dispensed to treat obesity during 2006 compared to 127,000 in 1999.
The majority of these were two drugs: Sibutramine and Orlistat.
Figures also showed a significant rise in the number of adults with raised waist circumference and the number of children who are obese.
The statistics, released by the Information Centre (IC), follow last year's Foresight report. This warned that if current levels continue about a quarter of children, 60 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women will be obese by 2050.
At these levels obesity is projected to cost society £45.5 billion a year.
Positive findings from the IC's Health Survey for England include an increased number of adults and children eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
There has also been an increase in the number of adults who are exercising for the recommended 30 minutes a day.
However people on low incomes are most likely to have cardiovascular disease and low levels of fruit and vegetable consumption or low levels of physical activity.
Men on high incomes are most likely to be overweight.
"Marked inequalities in lifestyle and in health continue to exist in England," said Dr Jennifer Mindell of University College London, who led the UCL team working on the health survey.
"The lower your income, the more likely you are to smoke or be obese, and the less likely to eat sufficient fruit and vegetables or be active enough.
"So not surprisingly, people with lower incomes also have worse health, with more people reporting heart disease or stroke, and having diabetes or untreated high blood pressure."
Rachel Craig, research director of the Health Survey for England at the National Centre for Social Research, added: "While it is encouraging that there are signs people are beginning to improve their lifestyles eating more fruit and vegetables, exercising more, smoking less many serious health conditions continue to increase, and we need to do more to reduce risks of heart disease."
Earlier this month the government announced its obesity strategy, which takes a society-wide approach to improving the nation's health.