Health watchdog warn doctors not to blame obese patients for being fat

obeseDoctors have been warned to refrain from blaming and pointing the finger at patients for being overweight or obese.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have created new draft guidance for tackling obesity, and in particularly the correct manner in dealing with obese patients. In the past NICE have asked doctors to actually stop saying the word “obese” as it may be deemed “derogatory”.

All doctors, GPs and other health professionals should now strive for a more sensitive tone which is “respectful” and “non-blaming” as this will “minimise harm”, according to the health watchdog.

Rather than looking at short-term and temporary weight loss, the guidance on lifestyle weight management programmes will aim to help overweight and obese people to both lose weight and then maintain the healthier weight, focusing on achievable goals, with positive long-term lifestyle changes.

NICE advise that more patients should be referred “lifestyle weight management” programmes such as Weight Watchers as programmes which thoroughly assess their diet, levels of activity and behaviour may save money in the long-term. Specifically, adults with a BMI in excess of 30 kg/m² and those identified as overweight or obese through the NHS Health Check or other services should be referred to these programmes.

Obesity is linked to a huge range of serious health problems such as type-2 diabetes, certain cancers (e.g. breast and prostate cancer), arthritis, heart disease (from smoking and high cholesterol), infertility, asthma, back pain, depression and kidney disease.

NICE say that such conditions, and the many more that have been linked to obesity, place a massive strain on the already stretched NHS, costing an estimated £5.1 billion each and every year and “placing a huge strain on the health service”.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of the centre for public health at Nice, said: “Being overweight or obese can have serious consequences for an individual’s health, not only physically with increased risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, but it can also affect their mental health as a result of stigma and bullying or discrimination. Levels of obesity in England are rising, with a little over a quarter of adults classified as obese and a further 41% of men and 33% of women overweight.

Professor Kelly continued: “This is a huge proportion of our population. This new draft guidance focuses on the provision of effective lifestyle weight management services and makes a number of recommendations to ensure that the providers of programmes whether from the private, public, or voluntary sector follow good, evidence-based practice.This draft guidance isn’t about quick fixes, it is about ensuring lifestyle weight management services support people in the long-term. Programmes that address diet, activity and behaviour change can help people who are obese lose weight but they are only cost-effective if the weight is kept off.”

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