A SHOCKING new TV show on tonight lifts the lid on backbreaking work NHS staff are taking on to help obese people in the UK.
Channel 5’s Mega Obese: Big Body Squad follows health care workers treating the growing number of patients receiving weight-related surgery and ambulances being used as supersize taxi services.
5 Big Body Squad follows Andrew, who has his leg amputated through obesity-related illnessCredit: IWC Media
The hard-hitting documentary was filmed in 2011 but it is being shown now as the British obesity crisis reaches damaging new heights.
It follows 31-stone Andrew Lacy, 48, from Wakefield, who is forced to have his leg amputated.
He developed an ulcer on his right leg due to obesity-induced diabetes but it went unnoticed.
Eventually, the infection was so dangerous he was told his leg would have to be cut off, up to his right knee – or he could die.
Andrew says it took this harrowing news to serve as a wake up call.
“I never took it [obesity] that seriously,” he says. “Now it’s serious. Without a leg, that gives you a shock.”
5 Andrew’s plight is just one example of how the NHS is being stretchedCredit: IWC Media
5 Obesity illnesses have caused a demand for more ambulancesCredit: Alamy
Incredibly, the statistics from Public Health England (PHE) revealed weight-related amputations soared by 14 per cent to 27,465 between 2015 and 2018.
It’s the equivalent of 175 amputations per week, or 25 a day.
In 2016 alone, amputations related to diabetes were estimated to have cost the NHS £44m.
The documentary also follows 30 stone Andrew Elderkin, 46, from Swindon, who has severe elephantiasis and has begged doctors to cut off his leg as he is in excruciating pain and unable to walk.
5 Andrew admits he didn’t take his obesity seriously before his leg needed to be amputatedCredit: IWC Media
Andrew contracted elephantiasis – medically called lymphatic filariasis – 15 years ago. The disease is caused by mosquito bites becoming infected, and causes parts of a person’s body to swell to massive proportions.
While this isn’t necessarily linked to his weight, Andrew has been unable to exercise and has piled on the pounds.
Unable to walk, he relies on an ambulance to pick him up from his house if he needs to travel even a short distance.
Shockingly, Andrew says: “I’ve been asking doctors to cut my leg off.
“I know it’s a drastic thing and they won’t do it because my toes are pink, so I’m still getting life there so I have to bear the pain.”
The programme follows Andrew on a trip in the ambulance to get some bespoke shoes made as he can’t fit into any shop-bought pairs.
“Without the ambulance service, I’d be completely lost,” he says.Prisoners in their own homes
The number of admissions to hospital for obesity-related problems increased 10-fold from 52,000 in 2006 to 520,000 in 2016.
And in 2017, it was revealed that thousands of specially-designed bariatric ambulances were being rolled out to cope with the growing amount of call-outs for obese people.
The programme also shows 27st Elizabeth Jackson, 49, from London, who can’t get out of her second-floor flat due to her weight.
She is confined to her kitchen and bedroom.
It takes two whole crews – four people – of ambulance staff to help carefully manoeuvre her down the narrow stairs.
Richard Webber from the College of Paramedics, said previously that incidents like this were taking their toll on ambulance staff.
He said: “The retirement age is now 67 for paramedics and ambulance service staff. That’s pretty hard, to be working carrying patients up and down stairs at that age, and patients are getting heavier.”
It comes as shocking stats show that obesity is the UK is costing the NHS £6.1 billion per year.
‘I feel like I’m drowning’
Another patient featured in the show is 30st Fred, aged 52, from Surrey.
He had multiple health issues which meant he was confined to his first floor bedroom watching TV.
He had early signs of glaucoma, caused by diabetes, which can lead to blindness.
5 Fred is tested for eye problems related to his obesityCredit: IWC Media
He also suffered from sleep apnoea – a breathing problem affecting 77 per cent of obese people.
This makes sufferers six times more likely to suffer heart failure.
It can cause people to stop breathing up to 100 times an hour due to excess weight around the neck and can prove fatal.
“The longest I sleep in one go is a couple of hours, I jolt up gasping for breath,” said Fred. “I feel like I’m drowning, it’s a weird sensation.”
Since filming for the documentary, Fred has died.
Mega Obese: Big Body Squad airs on Channel 5, tonight at 10pm
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