OBESITY is placing a growing strain on Swindon’s healthcare system, new figures show.

The number of people left needing hospital treatment for a health problem related to obesity has almost doubled in four years.

Official figures published by NHS Digital this week show that 2,977 were admitted to hospital in 2016/17 with health problems where obesity was a factor. In 2013/14 it was just 1,195.

The alarming rise – more than 150 per cent – puts Swindon above the national and regional average.

Across the board, hospital admissions relating to obesity have increased, with health chiefs blaming the nation’s dangerous addiction to sugary food and drink.

But while Swindon groans under a growing crisis, just 20 people were sent to hospital for stomach surgery last year. In 2013/14 13 people were admitted to hospital for bariatric surgery.

Last month the Adver reported one senior nurse’s warning that some Swindon mums could be denied giving birth at home if midwives deemed them to be too fat.

Gill May, executive nurse at Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “What we do know is that we have a higher level of obese women who are pregnant who then present a greater risk at birth, which means home birth couldn’t even be considered.”

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity at NHS England, said no single intervention could win the war on flab.

“We have been clear that the growing obesity crisis sweeping the country is a public health crisis and the evidence backs it up,” he said.

This is National Diabetes Prevention Week, with health chiefs urging an estimated 20,000 people in the town considered to be at-risk of developing type 2 diabetes, to cut back on sugar-rich food and drink.

Ms May said: “Not putting extra sugar on breakfast cereal or taking the stairs instead of the lift at work are just two steps that over time could help reduce the risk of diabetes.”

Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “We know that obese children are likely to go on to be obese in adulthood, which can result in serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“The increase in hospital admissions directly attributed to obesity is an indicator that this impact is already being seen.”