Hitting the Hidden Pandemic



More than 13 percent of the world’s population is now obese, making it a ‘global epidemic’ according to the WHO (World Health Organisation).


Obesity creates a greater risk for heart disease, which causes around 160,000 deaths each year, while being overweight is linked to 1 in 20 cases of cancer, second only to smoking, according to Cancer Research UK.  Researchers now estimate that since 2014, obesity and excess body fat have contributed to more deaths in England and Scotland than smoking.


There is also a clear link between obesity and diabetes – England has an annual rate of around 200,000 new diagnoses of type 2 diabetes.


With the world in the grip of the Covid pandemic, there is now increasing evidence that being obese is also a high-risk factor in patients who contract the disease.


In April 2020, Imperial College carried out a study of nearly 17,000 Covid patients in UK hospitals, which revealed that those who were obese with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of more than thirty had a 33 percent higher chance of dying of Covid.


A report by the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre also found that 73 percent of Covid patients in intensive care were overweight or obese.


These alarming figures have served as a wake-up call for people who already wanted to lose weight and now, due to Covid, want to lose it quickly and safely.


A University of Liverpool report in October 2020 examined obesity, eating behaviour, and physical activity among UK adults during the pandemic. It found that repeated lockdowns and other restrictions were having an increasingly negative effect on the nation’s health.

A large number of participants reported negative changes in eating and physical activity during lockdown, with 56% snacking more frequently and experiencing problems with weight management. These trends were particularly pronounced among participants with higher BMI.”


One way to tackle this problem is Bariatric Surgery, however, patients qualifying for the procedure are typically at least 100 lbs overweight. Also, Bariatric procedures include insertion of a gastric band, which requires hospital surgery, general anesthetic and a convalescence time of around four weeks, with multiple adjustments over time.


Sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass require general anesthetic and a hospital stay of 2 days, followed by a convalescence of several weeks.


With patients wanting a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery, its not surprising there has been an increasing demand for minimally or non invasive procedures for surgical weight loss.


These factors have combined to drive the demand for intragastric balloons.


Majid Hashemi is a leading practitioner in this field. He is a specialist in anti-reflux surgery and laparoscopic (keyhole) bariatric surgery based at St Johns and St Elizabeth Hospital in St John’s Wood. He has carried out more than 3,000 stomach and Oesophagus operations and has a range of ‘firsts’ in surgery.


These include the first Linx implant in London and the first laparoscopic gastric bypass sleeve gastrectomy in North London.  He was also the first in the country to insert a Linx device after a sleeve gastrectomy.


Hashemi recommends an intragastric balloon as an effective option for several groups of patients. These include:


Those with less weight to lose:


  • A gastric balloon is generally recommended for people who are overweight, but who do not qualify for a gastric band or more radical weight loss surgery (individuals with a BMI of 27.5–30).


Those who are not sure about surgery:


  • A gastric balloon can be the first option for patients who are unsure about whether weight loss surgery is for them. If it is not suitable, any of the available types of weight loss surgery are still available, if the requisite BMI criteria are met.


Those who need to lose weight before weight loss surgery:


  • A gastric balloon can also be used in people with a much higher BMI to kick-start their weight loss. In some patients, this can reduce their BMI and make subsequent weight loss surgery safer, reducing the risk of complications with the anesthetic and the surgery itself.


The cost, including consultation, procedure and aftercare, is £5,000, with medical support, behaviour modification, nutrition plans and a recommended exercise programme included.


By contrast, the average dieter will spend more than £30,000 on around 55 fad diets in their lifetime – Apple Cider Vinegar, HCG, Sacred Heart… the list is endless, with many shrouded in pseudoscience or simply don’t work for everyone.

Other diets, such as Scarsdale or the Master Cleanse can require cult-like levels of commitment and devotion. Beyoncé might be able to lose 20 lbs on Lemonade, but the chances are you probably won’t!


Covid has been a catalyst for people who need to make urgent changes to their lifestyles, so it is reassuring to know there are solutions available.


Losing weight will not only improve your general health and wellbeing – it could also be a matter of life and death.


  • Ends –


Editors Notes:


For further information, images or interview requests please contact:


Niki Gifford

Gifford PR

[email protected]



Mr Majid Hashemi

Weight Loss London


[email protected]




As one of London’s most esteemed surgeons, he has wide experience in a range of surgical treatments, including surgery for hiatal hernia, anti-reflux surgery, bariatric surgery, and oesophageal & gastric cancer surgery. Mr Hashemi holds a notable safety record, with over 3,000 stomach and oesophagus operations performed at a zero-mortality rate.


Mr Hashemi has performed a range of ‘firsts’ in surgery, including the first laparoscopic gastric bypass and first laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy in North London in 2004 (the sole surgeon regularly performing this surgery in the area from 2001 until 2007) and the first LINX implant for reflux in London in 2013. In 2017, he performed the first ever implant of a LINX device on top of a sleeve gastrectomy.


Mr Hashemi is one of the only 12 surgeons in the UK who can currently offer the LINX procedure as a method of treatment for acid reflux. His significant experience allows him to give a focused, patient-centred approach, tailoring treatment for each individual and their specific needs.


He has an interest in open and laparoscopic hernia repairs and he works as a Specialist Consultant Surgeon at London Hernia centre at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in North London.

Mr Hashemi is actively involved in training, education and research, leading and supervising on a number of research projects. He was appointed as Senior Lecturer to University College London in 2001 and was Surgical Tutor and Lead for Academic Surgery at the Whittington hospital and Archway Campus 2001 – 2007. From 2007 -2010 he was Chair of the Surgery Module Management Group for Surgery Undergraduate studies for University College Medical School.


As well as surgery for the treatment of obesity, Majid provides the full range of services in oesophageal and gastric surgery, including assessment and treatment for patients with various hernia types, oesophageal reflux or motility problems including those requiring revision surgeries.

He regularly performs oesophageal and gastric resections for cancer as part of the team at the designated Cancer Centre at University College London Hospital. He is a firm believer that patients should be involved in all major decisions.


Through his dedication to innovation in surgery, Mr Hashemi established and chaired one of the country’s first bariatric surgery services with a multidisciplinary approach, providing patients with ‘one-stop’ care, diagnosis and treatment from a range of specialties. The establishment of the first bariatric surgery team in North London allowed Mr Hashemi to develop surgical approaches, and provide training for many of today’s bariatric and upper GI surgeons.

He currently is Medical Chair of the Achalasia Action, , and has one of the longest and most extensive experience in the surgical treatment of achalasia in the capital. Mr Hashemi is also an active researcher, and maintains a strong interest in education, having previously held tutoring and lecturing positions at University College and the Whittington Hospital. He is published extensively and is regularly invited to speak at conferences both on a national and international level. He continues to be involved in training for laparoscopic and bariatric surgery, and acts as supervisor for a number of research projects.