Taxpayers foot the bill for breast reduction surgery in teenage girls
28th August 2012
More shocking news regarding the obesity crisis in Britain has come to light this week, which could force the government’s hand in devising more effective ways to tackle the rising epidemic. According to Department of Health (DOH) figures, obese young girls are receiving breast reduction surgeries through the National Health Service (NHS), all paid for by the taxpayer of course. Stats show that the youngest person to be given one of these operations was aged just 11 years old incredibly. Also, in the previous five years there has been more than 100 girls aged 16 who have undergone the procedures, some of which can cost the taxpayer a hefty £5,000 an operation. The most common age group for women to undergo breast reduction surgery is between 35 to 55 according to the figures, with the oldest being 90, and in the last five years there have been 21,328 women (of all ages) to have the surgery. Health officials say that the need for these types of operations could be down to the fact that children are generally a lot heavier than previous times, and this extra weight is causing massive strain on their backs. Critics have hit out at the news though, arguing that the young girls should not be permitted to have breast reduction surgeries in their teenage years at a time when their bodies are still in the development stages. Not only this, but many have blasted that the NHS should be not drained of £5,000 an operation at a time when their budgets are already being stretched thin due to a seemingly never-ending recession. Moreover, there are a high number of patients with more life-threatening health conditions who are not receiving adequate treatment and medication due to spiralling waiting lists, so this news will no doubt cause outrage. The Department of Health have reacted to the fury, and spoke to try and defend the numbers, stating that the operations were allocated purely for clinical reasons, and not for aesthetic purposes. The clinical reasons they put forth include hyperplastic abnormalities (excessive increase of breast tissue), juvenile gigantomastia (excessive increase of breast tissue during adolescence), or giant fibroadeoma (a non-cancerous lump). In addition, Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: “Obesity will enlarge the breast size so it is perhaps natural that women concerned about their appearance would want to reduce the size of their breasts. Obesity on top of large breast size would make the back pain worse. It all goes in unison, and the solution is not to get fat. It can be hard to know when assessing young girls whether it is actual fatness or their breasts, so I wouldn't consider breast reduction in children.” The alarming figures to be released by the DOH may now prompt the government into serious action. More work needs to be done to promote healthy eating and regular exercise. We are a nation of fast-food and computer game addicts, and it seems the rot is starting at a very early age. Parents would be advised to get their children involved in active past-times such as football, netball, rounders, swimming, etc. and make sure they themselves eat their nutritious ‘5-a-day’. There is a better chance that children will eat more fruit and vegetables if their parents are doing the same thing!