GPs 'fail to take obesity seriously'

GPs have been criticised for failing to take obesity seriously in a report that shows the problem is spreading across the UK.

Using quality framework data from 2006/7, Dr Foster Research calculated the areas in the UK with the highest prevalence of obesity.

The worst affected area was found to be the Shetland Islands, where 15.5 per cent of patients were classed as obese, followed by southern Scotland, the north east of England, the Midlands and most of Wales (see map).

But high levels of obesity were also found to be spreading to areas in the south east of England, such as Medway in Kent, which has an obesity prevalence of 9.4 per cent.

The report describes the current primary care approach to obesity as 'uncoordinated and inconsistent'.

It highlights evidence that GPs have reservations about prescribing anti-obesity drugs and do not routinely refer patients for behavioural therapy.

National Obesity Forum director Dr Colin Waine said many practices were doing excellent work. 'It is essential, however, to try to get the quality framework to include treating obesity as there is very little point in GPs just recording BMI,' he added.

'It is important to the future health of the UK that we start thinking of obesity as a disease that has over 45 different conditions such as heart attacks and stroke linked to it.'

Obese patients should be offered anti-obesity drugs and bariatric surgery in line with NICE guidance, he said.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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