Soaring obesity 'a disaster' for GPs, RCGP warns

Rising obesity levels are an unfolding 'disaster' for general practice and better community support services are needed to address the problem, a senior RCGP figure has said.

Dr Pryke: community obesity services must improve (photo: RCGP)
Dr Pryke: community obesity services must improve (photo: RCGP)

Dr Rachel Pryke, the college’s lead on obesity and nutrition, said GP care for obese patients was hampered by poor access to multidisciplinary support in parts of England.

Obesity is a major risk factor for many of the conditions that face GPs every day, from diabetes to cardiovascular disease, yet there has been a lack of national leadership to tackle rising levels of obesity, she said.

The Worcestershire GP said that while general practice had a role in helping patients maintain a healthy weight, it could not deal with the obesity crisis alone.

In an interview with GP, Dr Pryke said GPs were sometimes reluctant to intervene because of the lack of services to which they can refer obese patients.

She said: ‘What we are desperately in need of are better services that are multidisciplinary. I can understand the anxieties of GPs imagining that somehow they’re going to be lumbered with a condition which is highly complex.’

She said the condition needed ‘funding, services and long-term support’.

Dr Pryke also criticised the QOF for promoting ‘old fashioned, historical, silo thinking’ that was no longer the right mechanism to improve chronic disease care.

Official figures show one in four men and women are now obese, up from about one in seven in 1993.

Read the full interview with Dr Pryke in the next issue of GP, out Monday 28 April

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