CHILDREN as young as 10 are having to undergo joint replacements due to damage caused by obesity, shocking new figures show.
The NHS digital data also reveals weight-related hip and knee replacements, normally associated with older people, have been soaring among young adults and people of middle age.
The total number of obese people of all ages having to undergo joint replacements has risen by almost 60 per cent in the past three years to 37,352.
Professor Philip James, past president of the World Obesity Federation, said: “It is shocking.
“These figures also show doctors and surgeons are now waking up to the burden of obesity which is steadily rising.”
He added: “I predict this problem will continue to escalate.
“Obesity rates are rising and the first thing that develops is back and joint pain.
“The wear and tear on joints from obesity is phenomenal.
“The orthopaedic world has to rethink how to cope with increased numbers of patients, including younger patients, who require hip or knee replacements.”
Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “This is tragic.
“Teenagers are still growing and their growth plates are not fused, so a replacement is extremely serious for them.
“Without surgery they might be crippled.
“Obesity is not only causing an increased risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes but also serious weight‑related joint damage.
“The cost of the obesity epidemic could bankrupt the NHS.”
The number of men and women between the ages of 40 and 64 having obesity-related hip replacements has risen almost 20 per cent in the past three years to 4,452.
Over the same time frame obesity-related knee replacements have also risen by almost 50 per cent in the same age group to almost 8,690.
Meanwhile, over the past three years the number of pensioners over 65 having obesity-related hip replacements has almost doubled to 8,906 and those having weight-related knee replacements has risen by 54 per cent to 14,269.
The total number of knee and hip replacements among those classified as obese has spiralled from 23,847 in 2014/15 to 37,352 last year. Britain has been dubbed the Fat Man of Europe with a quarter of the adult population now obese, having a body mass index – a ratio of weight to height – of 30 or more.