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BMA defends leader in obesity row

By Gareth Iacobucci

The BMA has strongly denied claims that its chair Dr Hamish Meldrum branded obese people as 'greedy'. An article in today's Evening Standard quoted Dr Meldrum as launching a stinging attack on the over-medicalisation of the UK's obesity problem. He was quoted as remarking "We are saying, 'This patient has a hyper-appetite problem' rather than, 'They are just greedy.'"

"People like to put fancy labels that suggest things are a medical problem. But [obesity] is not just a problem for GPs, it is societal. '

This afternoon the BMA emphatically denied that Dr Meldrum used the term. 'We would never say obese people were greedy.' said a spokesperson. 'The word greedy was never used in the interview.'

He added that the BMA accepted drugs were part of the treatment for obesity but that more emphasis should be put on other measures, such as exercise.

The article comes as a new study accuses GPs of not doing enough to help obese people.

It says over a third of practice nurses, district nurses, and primary care health visitors in the study said their practice did not have a well-developed programme for managing obese patients.

Only 1 in 10 were aware of a lead clinician responsible for obesity management, with under a fifth aware of a specific clinical protocol at their practice for tackling obesity.

The study of clinical practice, beliefs and attitudes to obese patients, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, surveyed almost 400 nurses in the North of England.

Dr Ian Brown, of Sheffield Hallam University, the lead researcher in the study, said that nurses in primary care 'clearly need further training and organisational support to provide the help that obese people need to lose weight, in line with new UK health guideline'.

He said GPs needed to treat obesity with 'the same level of attention and protocol as diabetes and other chronic complaints,' adding that training should address beliefs and attitudes about obesity as well as providing concrete clinical advice.

Dr Hamish Meldrum: in obesity row Dr Hamish Meldrum: in obesity row

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