This site is intended for health professionals only

Obesity ‘not tackled’ by NHS trusts

19 April 2011

Share this article

A report has suggested that just 15% of NHS trusts have implemented plans or policy to get to grips with staff obesity.

The call came from the Royal College of Physicians and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine under the first NHS audit of NICE public health guidance for the workplace.

In 2009, Department of Health figures estimated that around 300,000 of 1.2 million NHS workers were obese, with a further 400,000 overweight.

Despite these figures, the new audit, involving almost 900,000 employees from 282 trusts across England, reveals that little is being done to tackle the problem.

The audit was recommended by the Boorman Review in 2009, which highlighted the importance of making staff health and wellbeing central to the NHS.

According to NICE, employers should work with their staff to help them exercise during their working day. However, just 32% of organisations polled had introduced plans to help staff do this.

Evidence-based weight-management schemes were offered by fewer than one in three trusts, and healthy options were only promoted in 31% of shops.

Dr Sian Williams, Director of the RCP’s Health and Work Development Unit, said: “Patients expect health professionals to practice what they preach and trusts need to implement the best management practices to maintain the health of their staff.”

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Royal College of Physicians

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Yes! How are we suppose to tell patients they have to lose weight and live healthy lifestyle, when our nurses etc are so obese! We suppose to offer nicotine replacement to smokers in NHS, but how many have really given up smoking? I believe unless people are made to face consequence for their actions, they won’t really change. We must tell staff to comply with certain policies like uniform etc. Why don’t we make healthy living a policy?” – Soha Saba, BMI Alexandra

“I believe that supporting staff to adopt a healthier lifestyle should become embedded in all NHS organisations. In some cases, this will include offering weight management advice. However, I think the practicalities of facilitating in-house exercise (as per NICE) is probably a step too far for most trusts. Where food is available on-site, providing access to healthier food options for both staff and patients would be a major step forward. Whether we like it or not, patients do tend to look towards us as lifestyle role models, so whether it is smoking, over-eating or other self-destructive habits, patients are more likely to embrace our health promotion messages if we at least try to practice a little of what we preach. And no – this comment is not coming from a size 10 super athlete. However, I do recognise the value of demonstrating congruence with the health messages I purport to endorse” – Jan Harley-Doyle, London