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Each NHS trust needs a tsar to tackle obesity crisis, say top doctors as UK's fat epidemic shows no sign of slowing
UK second only to the US for weight problems and situation is getting worseTreatment still 'inadequate' adding to 5billion cost of dealing with issue
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Crackdown: Leading doctors have advised that an obesity tsar should be appointed at every NHS trust to tackle a growing crisis
Yet treatment is still ‘inadequate’ adding to the annual 5billion cost of dealing with the issue. The Royal College said two out of three hospitals lack ‘joined-up’ services for patients who are obese or overweight.
Complications the patients face include heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, sleep disorders and gynaecological problems.
The RCP said every NHS trust should have an obesity champion to co-ordinate services and improve staff training.
Nationally, a government appointee should drive an obesity strategy across a number of ministries including health, the Treasury, education and sport.
Complications: Obese patients face heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, sleep disorders and gynaecological problems
‘The Government has failed to address this in a joined-up way which is essential if we are to make an impact,’ said the report. The obesity tsar or figurehead could come from the House of Lords and should be politically independent, according to RCP vice-president Professor John Wass.
‘In the US, Michelle Obama and the mayor of New York have made a big difference to how obesity is being tackled,’ he said.
‘Britain is getting bigger and whilst we try to prevent the increase in obesity, we must also prepare the NHS for the influx of patients presenting with severe complex obesity.
‘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.’
The RCP says the NHS’s response to the problem has been ‘patchy’, with inadequate training for staff and poor education in nutrition. With an estimated 700,000 Health Service employees seriously overweight, they are setting a bad example to patients, it said.
The inadequate provision of services is highlighted by a 93-fold variation in the rate of stomach surgery for obesity between different hospitals in England.
The report recommends a systematic review of specialist obesity services – offered by just 37 per cent of hospitals – and the creation of multidisciplinary teams formed of physicians, surgeons, dieticians and nurses.
GPs should be able to raise weight issues with patients and ‘leave judgmental attitudes behind’.
Around one in four adults – nine million in England – are obese, along with almost one in five children aged ten and 11. Professor Nick Finer, co-author of the report and a obesity specialist, said: ‘We need to see improved leadership on obesity at every level, from the appointment of a lead physician in every trust to the creation of a cross-governmental role.’
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘We are taking action to help people keep a healthy weight and prevent them needing hospital care for obesity-related conditions.
‘The medical profession has a key role in providing advice and treatment to people who are overweight or obese and the Royal College of Physicians can help its members do this.
‘The NHS has a range of programmes in place to encourage weight loss.’