Health chiefs in Tayside have had to buy in special equipment including dignity gowns and hammocks for obese patients.
NHS Tayside has forked out nearly 180,000 in the last three years to buy the likes of hoists and scales, lifting poles and leg holders.
In 2013/14 alone, 69,154 was spent, with other items including specialist beds, mattresses and theatre tables designed to support the extra size and weight of bariatric patients.
Dr Mike Murphy, a clinical reader at the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine, helps patients shed the pounds before surgery as part of his work with NHS Tayside.
He explained that the equipment may not be for obesity services specifically, but to aid patients with a wide range of health issues.
Dr Murphy said: “In my opinion, around 70,000 for a year sounds like a lot of money, but it’s in fact not very much at all.
“The equipment purchased will be used by a wide range of people over a long period of time, so it is more than reasonable.
“The money that is being spent on hoists and such is to help people who might not necessarily be in hospital for the obesity services.
“They might be there for something completely different, but they just happen to be obese and need the specialist equipment.
“However, obesity is a spectrum, so not everyone who is obese will need this equipment if they are at the lower end of the scale.”
Joyce Thompson, dietetics consultant for NHS Tayside, added: “If a very obese person is admitted to hospital, from a manual handling perspective we need that equipment, but it’s not solely for patients being admitted for obesity interventions.
“Being overweight or obese affects the majority of adults in the population.”
Other items purchased or rented by NHS Tayside included wheelchairs, walking sticks and walking frames for heavier patients.
Generally, a person with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30 is considered obese, with more than 40 considered severely obese.
Dr Murphy added: “The risks that obesity brings are well documented, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as difficulty moving around.
“But a person with a BMI of 30, for example, will be able to live a relatively normal life. On the other hand, if you’ve got a BMI of 50 or 60, then everything is going to be a struggle things that people take for granted, like going to the shops.
“These are the kind of people that need help the most.”