Obesity: Thousands of Scots undergoing amputations

ONE hundred Scots a month are having limbs amputated as a result of obesity, costing the NHS around £60 million a year.

Type 2 diabetes is lifestyle-related and strongly associated with obesity. Picture: Getty Images
Type 2 diabetes is lifestyle-related and strongly associated with obesity. Picture: Getty Images

New government figures reveal that 4,707 Scots had limbs removed in the past four years as a result of diabetes or periphery vascular disease (PVD).

Tragically, 139 patients died as a result of complications during amputation.

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Health campaigners warned that the number of obesity-
related amputations threatened to help “break” the NHS.

Paying disability living allowance to almost 5,000 amputees is also estimated to cost up to £33.8m annually.

PVD is a condition in which a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to the leg muscles.

Type 2 diabetes is lifestyle-related and strongly associated with obesity. Last year, it was estimated the Scottish NHS spends £60m a year on amputations and treating foot ulcers for diabetics.

The figures, released by the NHS under the Freedom of Information Act, show there were 2,343 amputations caused by PVD and 2,364 caused by diabetes since 2010.

NHS Grampian saw the most amputations, with 661 patients going under the knife for diabetes and PVD-related complications.

This was followed by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde were there were 650 amputations.

NHS Lanarkshire had to amputate 477 limbs, and NHS Highland 473.

The Lothian health board had to carry out 459 amputations due to obesity-related diseases, while the figure for NHS Ayrshire and Arran was 394.

Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said: “It’s a real crisis we are in. In five years from now, this will have doubled or trebled. We have to get to grips with this. It’s going to break the NHS.”

He added: “The cost of diabetes on the NHS is already 10 per cent of the budget, and this does not include other disease and issues which come with obesity.

“This is causing huge damage to the NHS.

“Of course, all of these procedures have knock-on costs too. We haven’t done enough to prevent this from rising.”

A report released by charity Diabetes UK last year claimed that people with such diseases have a 30 per cent higher chance of needing amputation due to an increased risk of gangrene and ulcers.

It is believed that people suffering from diabetes are 30 per cent more likely to have a limb amputated than those without the condition.

As well as this, up to 80 per cent of amputees die within five years of having the operation.

Last month, it was revealed obesity could be classed as a disability in the workplace if the European Court of Justice rules in favour of a man from Denmark who was fired for being too fat.

A Diabetes Scotland spokesman: “The number of people living with diabetes has been increasing – currently there are 236,550 with diabetes in Scotland, up from 190,772 in 2008.

“Anyone dying as a result of an amputation is a tragedy that we should work to avoid.

“The increase in the number of amputations is always concerning. However, this is due to a rise in minor amputations whereas major amputations are declining.

“Diabetes Scotland advises that all people with diabetes manage their condition appropriately and have a healthy, balanced diet.”