By ANNA HODGEKISS
From super-size doors to reinforced wheelchairs, everything is larger than life.
This is one of the UK’s first dedicated weight loss wards, where last year four surgeons performed more than 600 operations to try and help clinically obese patients.
Based at the Sunderland Royal Hospital, the ward is at the heart of one of the fattest places in the country, where more than 40 per cent of adults are overweight.
It's a case of desperate times calling for desperate measures. Patients who come to the ward are generally treated with extreme surgery, such as gastric bands, sleeves and balloons to reduce stomach size.
And with obesity and its related illnesses expected to cost the NHS £50 billion each year by 2050, it's thought many more units will open across the country going forward.
Sunderland's ward has been captured in the new ITV1 documentary Weight Loss Ward, which follows the stories of patients seeking surgery at the hospital and explores possible reasons behind their weight gain, the reality of gastric surgery and what it means for them – plus the challenges faced by the staff who work there.
In the programme, consultant surgeon Peter Small is brutally honest about why the patients are there. ‘There is no medical problem that is causing people to be obese,’ he says.
‘The vast majority of people are obese because their calorie intake over time has not matched their calorie burn. The usual patient we get has been trying all the diets under the sun and all the medicines under the sun and they’ve failed. And they’re just crying for their life back.’