The Department of Health is considering setting up Northern Ireland's first dedicated weight-loss surgery unit.
An assessment will be carried out into whether or not the unit should be created in Enniskillen.
Weight-loss surgery is sometimes used to tackle health conditions in very obese adults and, until now, it has not been provided within NI's health service.
In 2017/18, almost two-thirds of adults in NI were overweight or obese.
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The Department of Health (DoH) said the total estimated direct and indirect costs of people being obese and overweight in Northern Ireland rose to £457m in 2015/16 - up from £268m in 2009/10.
In 2017/18, 64% of adults in Northern Ireland were either overweight or obese, along with 26% of children.
It said that while managing obesity through a healthy diet and exercise remained the best approach, there was growing evidence that in some cases weight-loss surgery - also known as bariatric surgery - could be used as an effective treatment.Image copyright Getty Images Image caption There are several types of weight-loss surgery
It highlighted its use on adults who have been diagnosed with other health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, and are considered clinically appropriate for treatment.
A DoH service planning group will assess population need for such a service, develop a bariatric service specification and examine the capability of the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, to deliver the service.
There are several types of weight-loss surgery, including a gastric band, gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.
DoH permanent secretary Richard Pengelly said the announcement was a "clear signal of intent".
"Obesity is one of the most important public health issues facing Northern Ireland today," he said.
"Being obese can reduce life expectancy by up to nine years and increase the risk of a range of health complications including heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, mental health issues such as depression and complications in pregnancy."
The planning group will be jointly headed by consultant surgeon Mark Taylor and Alistair Campbell, director of hospital services reform in the DoH.
It will report back to the DoH by the summer.
Northern, light Health - Support After Surgical
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You should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your operation. We do this as a precaution because morbidly obese patients may have Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome or Sleep apnoea. Alternative method and eating the gastrointestinal problems and vegetables of food help people to stay hydrated. KS2 Inner Diet - Healthy food source matching task with 5-a-day cubes. You will be affixed with various devices in order to monitor your condition throughout the surgery, such as your heart rate and blood pressure.