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The town where obesity levels are high but NHS funding has been cut

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Rotherham is one of the country’s obesity hotspots where two in every three adults is classified as either overweight or heavier.

Fast food makes up more than half of options for eating out, as is the case in many deprived areas.

Despite the scale of the obesity problem, NHS treatment for the most serious patients is no longer available in the South Yorkshire town.



Only those that can afford it can access the services of the Rotherham Institute for Obesity




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Calls for NHS to fund obesity clinic again

The 71.2% of adults in Rotherham classified as overweight or obese is the joint 7th highest percentage in the country with Wigan, while the average for the whole of England is 61.3%.

But tier 3 obesity treatment, essentially the final frontier for the most serious cases before surgery, is no longer available to NHS patients in Rotherham.

Fast food makes up more than half of options for eating out in Rotherham
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Fast food makes up more than half of options for eating out in Rotherham

The service is also on the decline around the country.

Joanne Keeling weighed nearly 30 stone when she joined the Rotherham Institute for Obesity, which had been NHS-funded until cuts forced it to become private in 2017.

Ms Keeling had managed to lose five stone with the help of the institute’s therapy and nutritional and physical support.

But she has since regained three stone while her confidence has also suffered.

She said: “I haven’t had children because of my weight.

“I do want to do something about it and I know I can.

“But mentally it upsets you… people can be cruel.”

Ms Keeling now only has access to a mainstream gym which she finds intimidating, and meeting doctors who don’t know her can be upsetting.

Wayne has shed 14 stone with the help of the weight-loss institute
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Wayne Morris has shed 14 stone with the help of the weight-loss institute

She recalled: “The first thing he said was, I am going to need to mention straight away that you are morbidly obese.

“Then he said to me, you’re 37… either lose weight now or don’t bother.

“To be honest I’m surprised you’re not dead already.”

Ms Keeling says her obesity has happened over a long period of time and is linked to mental health issues.

Talking therapy, which she said helped her a lot at the institute, is what she misses the most.

The Rotherham Institute for Obesity is now only available to the lucky few who can afford its six-month plan at £400.

Alan Scales, who has lost eight stone at the clinic, said: “I’m 68 now, I don’t think I’d have seen 55 to 60.”

Wayne Morris has shed 14 stone with the institute’s help.

He said: “I was one of the lucky few that went through the system…my diabetes went into remission.”

Dr Matt Capehorn says its 'very frustrating' that he can't help certain patients
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Dr Matt Capehorn says its ‘very frustrating’ that he can’t help certain patients

Dr Matt Capehorn who runs the clinic says they helped 7,000 NHS patients collectively lose 33.7 tons over 8 years, prior to the cuts.

He said: “We see patients every day that need a service like this.

“So it’s very frustrating as an NHS doctor that now I can’t help those patients.

“We know within one generation obesity, the direct and indirect costs, could potentially bankrupt the NHS because the projections are that it will cost £50bn a year.

“And this was a service that only cost £300k a year to run.”

The Department of Health said in a statement: “We are committed to reducing obesity and the harm that it causes.

“That’s why NHS England’s diabetes prevention programme will double as part of the upcoming long-term plan for the NHS – over 200,000 people every year across England will have access to targeted weight loss support and advice.

“We’re also helping people to live healthier day-to-day lives – as part of our obesity plan we’ve encouraged manufacturers to cut sugar from half the drinks available in shops and are consulting on plans to introduce calorie labels in restaurants.”

The NHS spends around £6bn a year treating obesity, with the condition estimated to be responsible for more than 30,000 deaths a year.

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