New figures show that more than one million prescriptions for obesity drugs were given to patients in 2006.
The Information Centre for health and social care (IC) said that there were 1.06 million prescription items for obesity drugs during the year.
This is more than eight times the 127,000 figure recorded in 1999.
Orlistat (xenical) and Sibutramine (reductil) were found to make up the majority of the prescriptions issued by GPs in England in 2006.
Opposition parties said the statistics show the Government is losing the battle against the rising tide of obesity.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “The burden obesity is placing on our already overstretched NHS is becoming more and more unmanageable.
“Drug treatments are a short-term solution from a Government that can’t see beyond the short term.”
And Betty McBride, head of policy and communications at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), backed him up.
She said: “We face a stark choice – embrace a healthier lifestyle now or surrender to a nightmare future in which people rely on constant medication to treat an entirely preventable condition.”
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Information Centre for health and social care
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