FIRE crews have been called out to lift obese patients into ambulances over 2,000 times in three years, shock stats have revealed.
Kent Fire and Rescue helped more than 560 obese or overweight patients, Hertfordshire recorded 118 cases while Shropshire dealt with just ten cases since the start of 2017, it is reported.
Fire and rescue teams in Northern Ireland were called out almost 200 times while the number reached 238 in Mid and West Wales, The i reports.
The stunning figures highlight the obesity epidemic that has swept the country and led to calls from health experts and campaigners for further government action.
Gloucestershire and Suffolk fire and rescue services said they do not “transport” patients on behalf of the ambulance service and declined to answer if they “helped” transport such patients.
Several fire and rescue services had yet to respond so the total figure is likely to be even higher.
In some cases windows and doors even had to be removed to get the patient out of their home.
Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “The escalating number of people having to be winched from their bedrooms to undergo weight loss surgery in hospital is testimony to three decades of Whitehall’s completely inadequate measures to tackle obesity.
“Successive governments have dithered since the 1990s to take the bold moves needed in the misplaced hope that the epidemic, dubbed a ‘timebomb’ by 2003, would never go off.
“It did. The UK is now paying £24bn a year in cleaning up the mess which, in the majority of cases, could have been avoided.
“We are not winning the war on obesity and never will until government gets really serious about the issue.”
Around 1 in 3 adults in the UK are now obese – defined as having a BMI of at least 30.
Men are more likely than women to be overweight or obese and people aged 65-74 are most likely to be overweight or obese.
Childhood obesity rates have caused particular alarm in recent years.
CALLS FOR ACTION
Data gathered as part of the National Child Measurement Programme shows 1 in 10 reception age children (age 4-5) are obese, with a further 12.8 per cent overweight. At age 10-11 (year 6), 1 in 5 are obese and 14.2 per cent overweight.
Last year, the Government announced its intentions to introduce compulsory calorie labelling across England, in the hope of tackling childhood obesity.
A consultation was launched last September as part of the Department of Health’s ambitious target of halving childhood obesity by 2030.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, a NHS cardiologist and anti-obesity campaigner, said: “These latest staggering figures are a tragic symptom of our collective failure to tackle the obesity epidemic on a population level.
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“A combination of incorrect government dietary advice encouraging a high refined carbohydrate diet exacerbated by an unavoidable junk food environment has led to the majority of adults in this country being overweight or obese.
“Until the government introduces strict measures that addresses the availability, affordability and acceptability of ultra processed foods which now makes up half of the British diet the situation will only get worse and we all lose.”
In his first speech since returning as Health Secretary following the election, Matt Hancock said the Government will “redouble” efforts to tackle obesity and smoking in the 2020s.