In a bid for people to improve their health by quitting smoking and losing weight, a publicly funded health care provider in the United Kingdom has come up with the decision to bar hospitals from performing non-urgent surgeries on smokers and obese people for an indefinite time.

Surgery Ban For Patients Who Smoke And Are Obese

Hospital leaders in North Yorkshire, England, announced that procedures such as hip and knee surgeries will be denied to certain individuals until they improve their health.

The surgery ban gives obese patients with BMI of over 40 a nine-month period to reduce fat by at least 15 percent. Those with a BMI of over 30 need to cut the number by 10 percent over the same period. Smokers likewise need to prove with a breath test that they have not smoked a cigarette for at least eight weeks to receive surgery.

"[S]ome of our patients will have to make changes and they will be supported to do so, for example with the free weight-loss and stop-smoking advice sessions already on offer," said East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) chairman Hari Pathmanathan.

Aims To Slash Health Care Costs

The new policy aims to slash health care costs for the National Health Service (NHS). In May earlier this year, NHS revealed that health care providers had spent $3.26 billion more than their allocation. Reducing obesity and smoking in patients can reduce odds of serious surgery complications, shorten stay in the hospital, and help patients recover better, which can help reduce expenditure.

"Major surgery poses much higher risks for severely overweight patients who smoke," said an NHS spokesman.

Smoking And Obesity

Smoking and obesity are among the main causes of a range of health conditions and diseases as well as premature deaths, and it isn't just the United Kingdom that faces the challenges of obesity.

In September, a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Trust for America's Health (TFAH) revealed that one in five people in the United States is obese. On a global scale, more than 2 billion children and adults are overweight or obese.

As for smoking, figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that 7 million people die each year due to tobacco use.

"The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 7 million people a year," WHO said. "More than 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke."

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