Obesity and alcohol costs to your NHS
£73m is the cost of obesity to the NHS in Wales, according to an academic study commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government, the first time such a figure has been calculated.
The study, by academics from Swansea University’s College of Human and Health Sciences, also estimated that the cost of excessive alcohol consumption to the Welsh NHS to be between £69.9m and £73.3m.
The findings show that the NHS in Wales spends over a £1m a week on treating health problems caused by alcohol misuse and another £1m each week on treating obesity. But the study also cautions that the true cost of both obesity and excess alcohol consumption to the Welsh NHS could be higher.
Wales’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Jewell said the findings underlined why the Welsh Assembly Government was trying to tackle obesity and alcohol misuse in Wales: “The costs of obesity and excessive consumption of alcohol to the health of individuals are well-known but this is the first time that we have been able to estimate a cost to the NHS in Wales.”
“The sad thing is that the over-consumption of alcohol and obesity are preventable health issues, much like smoking, that can be addressed with a strategic approach to changing behaviours.”
“In addition to legislation and pricing mechanisms people need to understand the health and social risks that come from the choices they make and take responsibility for their own health and making informed lifestyle choices.”
“People rightly expect the NHS to be there when they get ill, but we need to reinforce the message that they also need to help the NHS by taking responsibility for their own actions.”
The study was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government to estimate a cost of alcohol misuse and obesity to the Welsh NHS by studying a number of factors: including estimating the extent and duration of hospital admissions attributable to alcohol misuse and obesity in Wales; identifying the number of outpatient attendances by patients with illnesses related to alcohol misuse and obesity; estimating the number of GP and other primary care consultations as a result of alcohol misuse and obesity and identifying prescription costs for treating patients with obesity and alcohol-related problems.
Professor Ceri Phillips, one of the team of health economists from Swansea University who under took the research, explained the findings, saying: “Wales continues to have relatively high levels of alcohol abuse, obesity and other lifestyle behaviours relative to other countries, despite the efforts and successes of organisations to address behaviours that have major implications for people’s health.
“This study has estimated the likelihood of people with obesity and those with alcohol-related problems utilising healthcare services compared to those with no such problems and translated the differential into the impact on expenditure within NHS Wales.
“Using fairly conservative estimates, it is likely that around 3% of total NHS Wales expenditure – which increases to 10% if smoking is included - can be attributed to the additional demands placed on NHS Wales as a result of lifestyle behaviours. In an age of pressure on NHS Wales budgets, ways of addressing these behaviours in a cost-effective manner continue to need to be explored.”
A copy of the report is available online: wales.gov.uk/docs/caecd/research/alcoholmisuseandobesityreporten.doc
For more information, please contact Gareth John, Press Officer, Health and Social Services, Welsh Assembly Government, Tel: 02920 898100, or email: Gareth.John@Wales.gsi.gov.uk.
This news item has been posted by Bethan Evans, Swansea University Public Relations Office, Tel: 01792 295049 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.