The number of children admitted to hospital for problems related to obesity in England and Wales quadrupled between 2000 and 2009, according to new data.

Researchers at the School of Public Health, Imperial College London analysed NHS admission statistics for children and young people aged 5-19 where obesity was recorded in the diagnosis. Nearly three quarters of these were for conditions complicated by obesity such as asthma, breathing difficulties during sleep and complications of pregnancy, rather than obesity itself being the primary reason.

Findings showed that 3,806 children were admitted to hospital for obesityrelated conditions in 2009, compared with 872 in 2000.

The greatest rise in obesity-related hospital admissions was seen among female adolescents, including a significant increase in complications of pregnancy among teenage girls where obesity was thought to be a factor. The number of bariatric surgery procedures in children and young people also rose from one per year in 2000 to 31 in 2009, three quarters of these being in teenage girls.

Lead investigator Dr Sonia Saxena commented: “It’s clear that rising obesity levels are causing more medical problems in children, but the rise we observed probably also reflects increasing awareness among clinicians, who have become better at recognising obesity. ”

The findings are published in the open access journal PLOS ONE. http://www.