FIRE and rescue crews are being called more than ever to help move overweight patients.
Figures released by Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service show an average of just over one such call out per month was dealt with in 2013 and the first two months of this year.
The figure had dipped to just five in 2012 but it appears the numbers are rising again.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show there were 25 incidents between April 2007 and March 2009 in Gloucestershire in which fire crews were asked to help stricken obese people.
In 2009 the service was called to five incidents at the request of ambulance and seven from members of the public, and in 2010 there were 11.
That figure dropped to eight in 2011 - four from the ambulance service and four from members of the public, and just five from ambulance crews in 2012.
Last year, to date, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service attended 13 incidents at the request of ambulance and two requests from members of the public.
Each time a five-man fire and rescue crew is used to help ambulance crews, and they are detained for at least an hour.
The cost of each call out is estimated at £100 and Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum said emergency services will have to deal with more in future.
“I am not surprised it’s growing,” he said. “And I suspect it will grow even more because of the lag effect of obesity is going to mean for at least the next five to 10 years we are going to have increasing numbers of people who are getting more obese.
“In pure numbers it may not be going up but if you are already obese the likelihood of you getting more obese increases and you will get more call outs.”
Obesity is a bigger problem in Gloucester than the rural areas. It falls into the highest category in a report by Public Health England - 27.9 per cent of the city’s population is classified as obese.
In 1954, men weighed on average just over 10 stones. The average weight of a British man today is 12 stones 9lbs.
Gloucester also has one of the highest numbers of fast food restaurants per head - 103 outlets per 100,000 people, above the national average of 86. Stroud has 50 and the Forest of Dean 41 per 100,000.
Almost a quarter of children aged four and five in Gloucestershire are overweight or clinically obese, figures revealed last year showed.
Two years ago, 56st Georgia Davis, 19, was lifted from her south Wales home with the help of the fire service - and builders, who had to demolish a wall to get her out.
Part of her eating disorder was blamed on the death of her dad when she was five. She was warned she would not make 20 if she did not diet, and last year had cut down to 37st.
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service does not use additional equipment to move overweight patients, but its staff support the ambulance service, when its requests assistance.
Chief fire officer, Stewart Edgar, said: "Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service has a duty to help everyone in the county, working together for a safer Gloucestershire.
"Our crews are trained to deal with a variety of incidents and providing a service like this is all part of the job for us.”