In some areas, potentially 50-60% of patients will have obesity. At the moment, weight management services are incredibly patchy and for the most part of very little value.
We know that only 5% of people who have obesity will lose weight and maintain that weight loss forever. So unless significant input is put into effective weight management – which includes psychology, proper nutritional information, obesity medicine and bariatric surgery – then there is really very little point in doing any of this.
Obesity, for the most part – and as recognised by the Royal College of Physicians – is a chronic, relapsing, remitting disease. It is not a temporary state of affairs.
Obesity is not a temporary state of affairs
So saying ‘refer all your patients to weight management’ – there aren’t the services to send them to, so that’s not possible without massive investment when you think of the number of patients this is going to involve. And we know that patients want to discuss their weight or obesity, but it needs to be discussed in the right way.
We have to reduce the stigma and recognise obesity as a chronic disease and we need to invest in evidence-based treatment for the long-term management of obesity – not exercise prescriptions and slimming world.
We know that if you have obesity, there is a higher chance of having hypertension and diabetes as well, but again you have to have evidence-based proper treatment for the BMI, and the hypertension and diabetes may or may not then be helped as well.
There isn’t a one-size fits all treatment.
Dr Stephanie deGiorgio is a GP in Kent