The number of gastric bypass operations being carried out on the NHS has seen a six-fold increase in just five years.
New figures show that doctors are increasingly turning to more invasive and irreversible gastric bypass surgery for patients to help reduce the nation's obesity crisis.
One in 30 people in the UK are now officially classed as morbidly obese and as a result the NHS is spending increasing amounts on bariatric surgery.
A gastric band operation restricts the size of the stomach so the patient cannot eat much before they are full. This operation is reversible, but a gastric bypass is more radical.
Food bypasses the stomach altogether and moves into a small pouch, created by the surgeons, resulting in the patient eating and digesting far less.
The operation is not reversible and can produce greater weight loss.
Five years ago hospitals in England carried out just over 858 gastric bypass operations but that number has now risen to 5,407.
The number of gastric band operations has risen much more slowly from 715 procedures five years ago to 1,316 last year.
The increase in cases has raised the question as to whether doctors are chosing surgery as a quick fix to the problem rather than trying to change people's eating habits and attitudes to health.
Dr David Kerrigan, a surgeon and medical director of weight loss surgery specialists Gravitas, told Sky News surgery is never an easy option.
He said: "What you've got to remember is before the NHS will fund the bariatric operation all of these patients have to have gone through a one to two-year lifestyle programme beforehand.
"So they've all been seeing community dieticians, they've been seeing psychologists, they've been getting motivational training and behavioural change training before they even come through for surgery and the NHS agrees to fund them.
"So most of the patients are already well on that road to making the necessary lifestyle changes.
"What the surgery does then is give them that additional high amount of weight loss which they need because they are so overweight."
Julie Osborne, from South Down, weighed more than 20 stone by the age of 37. She was on insulin to treat her diabetes and chose to have a gastric band fitted and proceeded to lose 13 stone in weight.
She chose a gastric band rather than having a gastric bypass because she felt the health risks were reduced and her operation could be reversed when she reached her target weight.
Ms Osborne told Sky News the operation saved her life and has also saved the NHS thousands of pounds.
"Obesity is a medical condition. It's not something that can be treated easily," she said. "I was taking insulin to treat my diabetes and it was costing the NHS hundreds of pounds a month.
"But my gastric band cost the NHS £8,000 and that was 18 months ago and since then I've not needed medication. So the operation has not only saved my life but it has also saved the NHS money."
With more people in Britain becoming obese and no sign of the problem slowing down, the use of surgery looks likely to become more common as a last resort.