Efforts to tackle rising obesity

Obesity and diabetes will be the focus of a number of DoH public health pilots in the coming months, following the publication of the ‘Health Profile of England' last week.

The document highlighted a number of public health success stories but also serious problems in these two areas, showing considerably higher obesity rates in the UK than many other countries in Europe. 

Launching the document, health minister Caroline Flint highlighted the growing problem of obesity as her greatest concern.  

‘Our initial focus will be obese adults and children. The increase in child and adult obesity is storing up serious health problems for the future,’ she said.  

The DoH says that by tackling obesity and diabetes it would also reduce ‘heart disease, cancer, stroke, high BP, cholesterol and a range of factors critical to health like mental well-being’.  

Alongside the health profile it published ‘Health Challenge England’ which lays out the schemes through which it wants to achieve this.  

Few of the schemes will directly involve GPs or other health professionals, with an emphasis being placed on joint working with local councils and helping individual responsibility.  

It also wants to encourage more corporate engagement, endorsing healthy eating labels at supermarkets and cites a scheme from high-street firm Boots as an example of good practice.  

The nationwide health and beauty retailer launched its ‘Change One Thing’ campaign in January 2006.  

The report says: ‘The campaign is designed to provide expert solutions to help people lose weight, eat well, stop smoking, get fit, de-stress and look great. Over 1,000 people have also joined its weight loss programme.’  

The report also looks at the role that health trainers will play in the future of public health and trumpets their role in Life Checks: the three health assessments that all patients will have in their lifetime following implementation of January’s primary care White Paper. It also gives a number of examples of schemes that health trainers are already working in.  

One such pilot, the Bolsover Wellness programme in Notting-hamshire, began as a simple exercise scheme accepting referrals from GPs, practice nurses, health visitors, district nurses, respiratory nurse teams and community support workers, but now employs three health trainers.  

‘From day one, they support people coming onto the scheme, build rapport and buddy them,’ says the report.  

‘They also signpost people to services available locally and help them take up those services, which might involve accompanying them to an initial appointment. They then follow up. Health trainers have added even more value to an already excellent project, by broadening out the service available far beyond physical activity.’  

Dr Chris Spencer-Jones, chairman of the BMA’s public health committee, welcomed the emphasis on helping individuals to make their own healthy choices rather than relying on professionals but said primary care organisations must be allowed to implement the changes outlined in the way that best fits their local situation.  

‘It is vital that PCOs are not captive to politically driven initiatives, which may not, in practice, be that effective,’ he said.  

‘They must be given the freedom to make public health a commissioning priority. They must also be given the freedom to focus on the public health issues which affect local health, and the chance to make a real difference to the health of their community.’ 

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Woman holding face in pain

Should GPs treat patients presenting with dental problems?

The MDU's Dr Kathryn Leask considers what GPs should do if a patient presents with...

Conservative Party leadership candidate and foreign secretary Liz Truss

Liz Truss vows to resolve GP pension tax crisis if she becomes prime minister

Liz Truss has affirmed her commitment to resolving the GP pensions crisis but has...

Baby receiving a vaccine in their thigh

JCVI advises changes to routine childhood and HPV immunisation schedules

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended a change...

GP consultation

General practice delivering 'up to double the appointments it is paid for'

General practice in England may be delivering as many as double the number of appointments...

Sign outside BMA House

GP suicide sparks calls for measures to protect doctors from spiralling workloads

The government and policymakers must do more to safeguard doctors and NHS staff from...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Living with long COVID

In August we’re bringing you some of the best interviews from series one of the podcast....