England: Hospital admissions for obesity increase of 23%

Updated: Jun 30

NHS Digital has published a report - ‘Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England, 2020’ – has revealed that in 2018/19 there were 11,117 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of obesity, an increase of 4% on 2017/18 (10,660 admissions). Approximately 74% were female. There has been an upward trend since 2014/15, with an increase of 22% over that period.

In 2018/19 there were 876,000 thousand hospital admissions where obesity was recorded as the primary or a secondary diagnosis, an increase of 23% on 2017/18 (Approximately 65% were female), when there were 711,000 admissions. Some (though not all) of this increase may be due to hospitals being more likely to record obesity as a secondary diagnosis than they were previously, the report noted. For admissions directly attributable to obesity, the number increases to middle age, peaking at 45 and 54, before declining in older age groups. Seventy percent of patients were aged between 35 and 64.

Of those admissions where obesity was a factor, but it was not the primary diagnosis (main reason for the admission), the most common diagnoses related to maternity issues and knee joint issues (arthrosis of the knee). Others in the top ten diagnosis types were the formation of gallstones (Cholelithiasis), hip issues (arthrosis of the hip), and heart disease.

While there were a large number of different primary diagnoses recorded for admissions where obesity was a factor, and collectively the top ten diagnosis types accounted for less than a quarter of all these admissions (181,000).

Rates for both admissions directly attributable to obesity, and for admissions where obesity was a factor increase with the level of deprivation. Admissions directly attributable to obesity were around four times more likely in the most deprived areas (33 per 100,000 population), compared to the least deprived areas (8 per 100,000 population). Admissions where obesity was a factor were around two and a half times more likely in the most deprived areas (2,443 per 100,000 population), compared to the least deprived areas (1,000 per 100,000 population).

Admission rates ranged from 413 to 3,804 per 100,000 population, with the highest admission rate over nine times greater than the lowest rate. Wigan, Wirral, York, Stoke-on-Trent and Nottingham all recorded admission rates of over 3,000 per 100,000 population, whereas Wokingham and West Berkshire both recorded admission rates below 500 per 100,000 population. The national rate was 1,615 per 100,000 population.

In 2018/19 there were 7,011 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of obesity and a main or secondary procedure of bariatric surgery. This is an increase of 6% on 2017/18 (6,627). Over three quarters (79%) of admissions were for females and over three quarters of patients (78%) were aged between 35 and 64.