The number of obesity drugs on prescription has passed one million for the first time - eight times the number dispensed in 1999, according Information Centre (IC) for health and social care, as part of a wider report on obesity and the health of people in England.
The two main drugs, orlistat (Xenical from Roche Laboratories) and sibutramine (Reductil from Abbott Labboratories), made up the majority of the prescriptions issued by general practitioner practices in England.
In 2006, there were 1.06 million prescription items for drugs to treat obesity, compared with 127,000 in 1999, according to IC data. The report also showed that, in 2006, more than one in 10 adults aged 16 and over were diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease, such as coronary heart disease or angina.
The prevalence of diabetes diagnoses is 5.6% among men and 4.2% among women. A total of 24% of all adults were also classified as obese in the health survey.
The report comes a week after the British government launched a £372 million ($732 million U.S.) strategy aimed at cutting levels of obesity in England.
”The government is now spending an enormous amount on treating obesity and not nearly enough on prevention. We're in danger of treating the symptom rather than the underlying causes,” according to Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat health spokesman.
”The burden obesity is placing on our already overstretched NHS is becoming more and more unmanageable,” said Andrew Lansley, Shadow health secretary. The NHS, or National Health Service, is the publicly-funded healthcare system in England.