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Concerns over NHS approach to obesity

2nd January 2013

The Royal College of Physicians has called for improvements in obesity services in the UK.

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With poorly developed systems in place, in particular in hospital settings, the RCP suggests opportunities to help obese patients are being lost.

In the UK some 25% of adults are obese, a statistic the organisation says should prompt a re-think over how to approach the problem.

It is concerned that services are not so much dealing with the cause of obesity but focusing more on the symptoms such as heart disease and diabetes.

The RCP report highlighted wide variations in the way obesity was treated across the UK - particularly in the frequency with which obesity surgery is performed – and that a more "joined up" approach between hospitals and community services was required.

Professor John Wass from the RCP said the NHS should become better prepared for the influx of patients presenting with severe complex obesity.

He said: "A patient may arrive at my hospital with coronary heart disease, but if the root cause of their condition is obesity, we must be equipped to deal with that root cause."

Professor Lindsey Davies, who is president of the Faculty of Public Health, welcomed the recommendations and said improvements in service will only come with "everyone working together".

She also urged the government to be more proactive by addressing some of the wider determinants of obesity.

A Department of Health spokesman said the government remained committed to tackling obesity and acknowledged the medical profession had a "key role to play".

 

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