Brits turn to drastic weight loss methods

November 21, 2011

A new study has today (Monday 21 November) highlighted the worrying lengths that Brits will go to, when it comes to losing weight. 

According to research* conducted by The Co-operative Pharmacy, one in 10 people would starve themselves to lose weight and another one in 20 would consider bariatric surgery such as a gastric band to shed the pounds. 

Disturbingly, the number of those willing to go hungry in the 18-21 year-old age group almost doubled to nearly one in five.  Weight loss clubs were most popular among with those in their mid to late thirties.

While the top way to lose weight was dieting, a significant number of people questioned were willing to consider drastic weight loss options now or in the future. However, the majority of them did not know their Body Mass Index(BMI)**.  Almost one in 20 classed themselves as obese and a third believed that they were overweight.

Those who classed themselves as obese were more likely to consider surgery.  One in 10 of this group stated they would look at this as an option.

Bariatric surgery on the NHS is currently only available in exceptional circumstances if funding is available locally via the Primary Care Trust and a patient meets specific criteria.*** The results of the survey indicate that a number of people may not be aware of what is involved and the special circumstances required for surgery to be considered as an option.

Professor David Haslam, Chair of the National Obesity Forum, explains: "The decision to undergo bariatric surgery is a major one, not to be taken lightly by the patient or the hospital team which provides the operation and it is not suitable for everyone. As with any surgery, there are associated risks, but if the wrong person was to undergo a bariatric operation, the consequences could be catastrophic.”

While the top reason for women to lose weight was to feel better about themselves men were more concerned about getting fit and health worries.

Almost a third of women cited wanting to fit into their old wardrobe as one of the main reasons to lose weight and nearly one in 10 said they wanted to look a like particular celebrity.

The research also revealed that men were least likely to be concerned about their weight with more than a third (36.6%) having never worried about their body shape compared to one in six women (17.7%)

Catherine Cox, Primary Care Services Manager, at The Co-operative Pharmacy, said: “These are distressing findings as although the majority of people wanting to lose weight are looking at more sensible options such as weight clubs and dieting, there are a considerable number who are putting their health at risk by not eating. 

“While bariatric surgery has its place for people who have tried other means of losing weight, it is not a quick fix and it is not suitable for everyone.  A wealth of health information and weight loss options are readily available both on the NHS and in pharmacies to support people wanting to lose weight and these can be tailored to each individual.”

Professor Haslam adds: “If bariatric surgery is undertaken responsibly, after a careful period of multi-disciplinary assessment as an outpatient, it can reduce premature death significantly, often prolonging life for 20 years or more, whilst returning quality of life for individuals. Weight loss surgery also helps to prevent chronic illnesses linked to obesity such as heart disease, helping to save NHS resources.”

For further information on healthy living and weight loss advice visit:

Notes to editors

*One Poll interviewed a random sample of 3,000 adults online.  Surveys were conducted among adults across all ages and regions of the UK.

**The Body Mass Index (BMI) calculates a person’s weight (in kilograms) by the square of their height (in metres) to determine if a person has a healthy body weight. In adults, a healthy BMI is classed as between 18.5-24.9 kg/m2, a BMI of 25 to 29.9 means that person is considered to be overweight and a BMI of 30 or above means that person is considered to be obese.

***See NICE guidelines on obesity:  p.11


About The Co-operative Pharmacy

The Co-operative Pharmacy, part of The Co-operative Group, is the third largest pharmacy chain in the UK with nearly 800 branches. It is dedicated to providing the highest standard of healthcare to the local communities that it serves in, whether it is in a health centre, on a high street or in a small village.

The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over six million consumers.  It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, the leading convenience store operator and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank, Britannia and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider and Britain’s largest farming operation. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies almost 50 commitments in these areas.

The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 106,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn.  Further information is available at


Contact Information:

Alex Wilson
Senior Public Relations Officer – Pharmacy      
The Co-operative Group
Tel: 0161 2663416 / 07540 641368

Craig Noonan
PR Manager – Specialist Retail
The Co-operative Group
Tel: 0161 266 3589 / 07702 505439