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‘Urgent’ call for weight loss service access

19 February 2013

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A £300 million investment in weight management services has been called for as part of “urgent” recommendations to curb the UK’s rising obesity. 
An Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) report released late last week suggested £100 million government investment in weight intervention every year for three years.
The money would go towards programmes which would “mirror” smoking cessation services, in all four UK countries. 
“It’s time to stop making excuses and instead begin trying new innovations and acting quickly to tackle obesity head on,” said Professor Terence Stephenson, AoMRC chair and paediatrician. 
He warned that otherwise the majority of this country’s health budget could be “consumed by an entirely avoidable condition”. 
AoMRC suggested adjustments could be made to the Quality and Outcomes Framework, providing “incentives” for GPs to refer to such services. 
‘Piecemeal and ineffective’
AoMRC, which represents nearly every doctor in the UK, said that the programme to tackle obesity has been largely “piecemeal” and “disappointingly ineffective”. 
Almost a third of nine year olds and more than 25% of adults are overweight or obese in the UK. 
The AoMRC report presents an action plan of what it believes are necessary steps to tackle the UK obesity crisis. 
Healthcare to ‘skill up’ 
Royal Colleges should promote “targeted education programmes” for primary and secondary care professionals, according to the report. 
Health visitors should be able to deliver basic food preparation skills to new parents, to guide appropriate food choices and encourage breastfeeding, AoMRC have said. 
The report also suggests that commissioners should work to ensure nutritional standards in hospitals are in line with schools. 
Professor Stephenson said: “We’ll be working with a range of expert individuals and organisations to take each of these recommendations forward.  
“The healthcare profession has taken the step of uniting to take action – and we’re calling on others to step up and take responsibility too”.  
Wider recommendations 
A ban on new fast food outlets and a duty on all fizzy drinks were among the other suggestions for curbing the obesity epidemic. 
The AoMRC have recommended a ban on advertising foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt before 9pm.