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  1. ITV Report

Sharp rise in obese people being saved by firefighters

The number of obese people rescued by firefighters because they are too large to move has risen by 514 per cent in four years.

Rescuers have used specialised body slings, lifting equipment and have removed windows and walls to get patients out of their homes.

Latest figures show there were 129 incidents in Kent last year where firefighters had to extricate residents.

Bariatric rescues have increased from 21 in 2013 to 129 in 2017 in Kent alone.

Tam Fry, from the charity National Obesity Forum, called for more bariatric surgery operations being carried out and compulsory GP appointments every three years to identify the condition early.

They shy away from the stigma and they avoid being called offensive names.

The problem we have is we don't know how big the problem is because people don't leave their houses and can't get to the doctor.

I speak to a lot of GPs who say 'if only I could have seen that patient sooner'.

– Tam Fry, National Obesity Forum

Dr Stephanie de Giorgio, a GP in Kent and member of obesity campaign group #obsmuk said curing the condition isn't as simple as "eat less and move more".

Obesity is a serious chronic condition, the causes of which are many.

They include genetic factors, the gut microbiome, which is the collection of bacteria that live in our gut, and the obesogenic environment in which we all exist.

Once a person has become overweight, the body does everything it can to stop that person from successfully losing weight, as the fact that only five per cent of people who are overweight every successfully lose weight long term without bariatric surgery, clearly shows.

Proper funding of more bariatric ambulances and crews would lessen the need for (fire service assistance) but like all other services, it is stretched beyond limits due to government underfunding and difficult working conditions.

– Dr Stephanie de Giorgio, GP