NHS Lothian buys oversized mortuary fridges to cope with obesity crisis

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HEALTH bosses are having to invest in oversized mortuary fridges to cope with Scotland’s obesity crisis.

NHS Lothian last year installed an obese fridge which can accommodate two obese bodies and said work was currently under way on the refrigerated body store at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary “which will increase capacity for bariatric deceased patients”.

Across Scotland, health boards have put in 41 fridges with additional capacity to accommodate larger corpses.

The details were obtained by the Scottish Conservatives under Freedom of Information legislation.

They said it was the latest indication of the increased cost to the NHS of Scotland’s rising levels of obesity.

Lothian MSP and Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “Obesity is fast-becoming Scotland’s number one health crisis.

“This is a problem across all age groups and all sections of society.

“It means people’s lives are being needlessly cut short and the cost to the NHS is rising.

“This research shows the situation is even forcing health boards to invest in bigger mortuary fridges to cater for those obese patients who have passed away.

“Far more work is needed across the board to help get Scotland’s population fitter and healthier.”

The Conservatives’ Freedom of Information request asked how many new mortuary fridges of additional size or capacity had been installed in hospitals to accommodate obese patients who had passed away.

NHS Lothian replied: “In 2017 a refrigeration unit was installed that can be switched on when required and can accommodate two bariatric deceased patients. The refrigerated body store at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh is currently being upgraded which will increase capacity for bariatric deceased patients and is planned to be completed at the end of 2018.”

Freedom of Information responses from health boards showed NHS Grampian had installed 25 spaces for “semi-obese” people and a further three marked as “obese” at its facility at the Foresterhill Health Campus. It said this was “required to meet demand”.

NHS Lanarkshire said it had created six new spaces for larger patients since 2013, while NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde put in three

Official statistics show that in Scotland last year 65 per cent of adults aged 16 and over were overweight, including 29 per cent who were obese.

Only two out of 53 European countries are more overweight than Britain.

Figures published earlier this month showed more than one in five of Scotland’s Primary One children were at risk of being overweight or obese - and most of them lived in poor areas.

Separate statistics revealed more than four million sugary drinks are consumed by Scotland’s children every week and the nation’s toddlers are eating an estimated one million sweets, often high in sugar, every seven days.