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The Department of Health is considering proposals to devote up to 100 quality points to obesity after a major trial showed GP interventions were effective.

Ministers are already determined to include 'organisational markers' for obesity and the new data may give them the ammunition they have been looking for to justify points for reducing weight and waistline circumference.

The National Obesity Forum said it was 'banging

on the department's door' with the results of the study, which found intensive management of obesity in general practice promoted weight loss in up to 40 per cent of


Dr David Haslam, the forum's chair and a GP in Hertfordshire, insisted obesity needed 70-100 points for measuring blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, and giving lifestyle advice. He said: 'I realise there will be resistance because it depends on patient compliance.'

The RCGP backed the inclusion of obesity but said 30 points would be appropriate.

But GPs reacted in horror to the proposals. Dr Shaun O'Hanlon, a GP in Guildford, Surrey, said: 'You can't make people do it so the targets would be very difficult to achieve and the amount of work per practice would be enormous.'

Dr Tony Snell, an architect of the framework and former member of the NHS Confederation negotiating team, said it was 'unfair' to hold GPs accountable for weight loss outcomes, but that he would support points for monitoring and referral.

The Roche-funded Counterweight Project examined the effect of lifestyle advice, exercise referral, dietitian referral or drug therapy in 1,500 patients at 58 practices. Some 30 per cent of patients ­ rising to 40 per cent of those fully compliant with the 12-month programme ­ had clinically significant weight loss at one year.

Results were presented at the first national conference on obesity and health this week.

Applying the Counterweight Project to all obese patients would take up an estimated 400 hours of time every month in the average practice.

By Nerys Hairon

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