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Obesity drug scripts hit 1m a year and rising

The number of prescriptions for obesity drugs in England have hit a million a year for the first time - according to figures released from the NHS Information Centre.

In 2006, 1.06 million prescriptions were written for the treatment of obesity - more than eight times the number prescribed in 1999. Around 73% of prescriptions were for orlistat and 25% were for sibutramine.

During the latest period for which data are available (January to June 2007), there were 613,000 thousand prescriptions for drugs used for the treatment of obesity in England. This is around 25% more than the same period in 2006.

RCGP prescribing spokesman Dr Jim Kennedy said 1m prescriptions a year should be seen in context as there were 13m GP consultations each week.

The NHS Information Centre also revealed the results of its annual health survey in which more than 21,000 adults and children were quizzed about the food consumption and activity levels. It showed that the gradual rise in the numbers eating healthily and doing regular exercise was continuing.

But despite the increases less than a third of adults and one in five children eat the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. And just 40% of men and 28% of women were taking part in 30 minutes of physical activity each week.

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