Shocking statistics released by the NHS this week have shown that there has been dramatic rise in the numbers of Scots being prescribed slimming medications. Estimates suggest that over 10,000 Scots are taking medications to promote weight loss, with 100,000 prescriptions written in 2008, 6,000 more than the year before. A public health expert from Glasgow University, Professor Michael Lean, has warned that they are being handed out over-enthusiastically and unaccompanied by proper advice.
Lots of newspapers are touting the statistic that prescriptions have risen “25 fold” over the past ten years, but considering that safe diet medications had only just been developed in the nineties, it’s not that surprising that prescriptions rates would rise once they hit the market. Reductil and Xenical, the only two medications authorised by the NHS for prescription, received approval by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in 2001.
Strangely enough however there has not been an increase in the cost to the taxpayer over the past two years, due to a drop in the price of the medications; between 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 there was a dip of £4.89 million in price. Over the next three years the Scottish Executive is planning to spend £56 million on a variety of initiatives aimed at encouraging the Scottish to exercise and improve their diet.
The figures also showed that over the last year there has been a 23% increase in prescriptions to help people quit smoking, such as Champix and Zyban. The total cost to the taxpayer increased by over £2 million. Scotland, as well as having the highest obesity rates in Europe has the largest number of smokers in the U.K.