GPs should send obese children and parents on weight-loss courses, says NICE

GPs should encourage parents regardless of their weight to attend weight management courses with their overweight children, according to a new NICE quality standard for tackling obesity in young people.

Child obesity: GPs urged to refer for weight management (Photo: iStock)
Child obesity: GPs urged to refer for weight management (Photo: iStock)

The NICE quality standard recommends that local authorities should maintain a publicly-available and up-to-date list of local lifestyle weight management programmes for children and young people, and that GPs must be aware of what is available and how to enrol people on them.

Obesity is a growing problem in children, with more than a fifth of four- to five-year-olds classified as overweight or obese upon starting primary school. This number rises to one in three for 10- to 11-year-olds.

For all children identified as being overweight or obese, GPs should ‘actively raise the possibility of participation in a local lifestyle weight management course’, according to the standard.

GP obesity care

Family members and carers should also be encouraged to attend these programmes – ‘regardless of their own weight’ – as they have an ‘important role and responsibility in influencing the environment in which children and young people live’, it adds.

A ‘placeholder’ quality statement focusing on reducing sedentary behaviour – highlighted as a separate issue to increasing physical activity – was also in the quality standard.

This is currently awaiting evidence-based guidance to back it up, and NICE said methods needed to be devised that can be used to measure sedentary activity.

NICE deputy chief executive Professor Gillian Leng said: ‘Up to 79% of children who are obese in their teens are likely to be obese adults, which can lead to health problems in adulthood such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. The quality statements set out the effective actions that should be taken to prevent and manage obesity in children and young people.’

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