New report investigates landscape of obesity services

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity has today (15 May 2018) launched a new report into the current landscape of obesity services, including lifestyle/prevention services.

The key findings of the report include:

  • 88% of people with obesity who took part in the survey have been stigmatised, criticised or abused as a result of their obesity
  • 94% of all respondents believe that there is not enough understanding about the causes of obesity amongst the public, politicians and other stakeholders
  • 42% of people with obesity did not feel comfortable talking to their GP about their obesity
  • More than one third of people with obesity who completed the survey stated that they have not accessed any lifestyle or prevention services. 

The report made a number of recommendations, including:  

  1. A national obesity strategy for both adult and childhood obesity should be developed and implemented by the Government, with input from key stakeholders. This should look to strengthen existing services and replicate best practice across the country
  2. Obesity/weight management training should be introduced into medical school syllabuses to ensure GPs and other healthcare practitioners feel able and comfortable to raise and discuss a person’s weight, without any stigma or discrimination
  3. The Government should implement a 9pm watershed on advertising of food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt to protect children during family viewing time
  4. The Government should lead or support efforts by the clinical community to investigate whether obesity should be classified as a disease in the UK, and what this would mean for the NHS and other services
  5. The Government should commission or support the development of a thorough, peer-reviewed cost benefit analysis of earlier intervention and treatment of people with obesity.

Rob Percival, Soil Association Policy and Campaigns Manager commented:

It’s disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, that nine out of ten people with obesity have been stigmatised, criticised or abused as a result of their weight. The narrative of blame that says that individuals are solely culpable for their own ill-health has to stop. Many of our choices are made for us, and are shaped and influenced by our food environment. Improving this environment by making fresh, healthy, minimally processed foods more accessible and more affordable should be a priority for the upcoming refresh of the Obesity Plan. The Government should be looking to introduce stronger controls on junk food price promotions in supermarkets and other high street stores, and it must reverse the public health cuts that threaten school food programmes like Food for Life, which are proven to improve children’s diets. Raiding prevention budgets while claiming to lead a ‘world-leading’ obesity strategy is completely nonsensical.”

Click here to read the report in full