OPERATIONS to combat weight gain have increased by more than a half in the past 12 months.

The news follows the tragic death of York mum Kerry Greaves, who underwent gastric bypass surgery to try to slim down so her daughter, Melissa, would not be teased at school. Sadly, complications led to Kerry’s death at the age of only 30.

Figures released by the NHS show that in the 12 months leading up to April this year, 4,324 people nationally underwent operations to have gastric bypasses or gastric bands fitted to help them lose weight. That is a 52 per cent increase over the 2007-2008 figures, when 2,838 opted for surgery.

Operations of this type can cost about £10,000 and most of those who opt to go “under the knife” are women – about three-quarters of the total who opt for surgery.

The treatment is predominantly available for patients whose body mass index (BMI) exceeds 50 – the average BMI is between 18 and 25.

People with a BMI of more than 40 are considered to be morbidly obese while a measurement of more than 30 is classed as obese.

According to the NHS figures, only 38 per cent of people are a healthy weight. The rise in the number of people wanting gastric bypass surgery has been borne out by York GP Dr David Fair, who said he had seen a marked increase in the number of people wanting the procedure.

But surgery should always be seen as the last option when dieting and exercise has failed.

Although low risk, Dr Fair said that potential problems could arise with any type of operations.

That is what happened to Kerry. After having the operation her stomach failed to heal properly, and she underwent a further 14 operations before dying of organ failure.