APPG obesity report finds 88% of obese stigmatised

RCPCH President says 'prevention is much simpler than cure' and calls on government to prevent obese children becoming obese adults with a string of bold measures.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity has launched a report which finds the NHS is failing people with obesity.

A survey conducted by the group found that four out of 10 people with obesity found it difficult to access lifestyle and prevention services. 88% of respondents said they have been stigmatised, criticised or abused as a result of their obesity.

The group has called for:

  • a national obesity strategy, bringing together different government departments, to ensure children are protected from junk food and adults with obesity who seek help from their GP have access to advice and treatment. Access to effective obesity services is currently a postcode lottery, with decisions on funding for obesity services being made by local commissioners. A whole-system approach with government backing, they said, would make action more likely
  • the Government to lead or support efforts by the clinical community to investigate whether obesity should be classified as a disease in the UK, and what this would mean for the NHS and other services
  • the Government to commission or support the development of a thorough, peer-reviewed cost benefit analysis of earlier intervention and treatment of patients with obesity.

The group also backed calls for the Government to introduce a 9pm watershed for advertisements for junk food, to tackle childhood obesity.

In response to the report, Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

“Obesity doesn’t just put people at risk of conditions such as asthma, heart disease and high blood pressure, it can also have a big impact on their emotional and mental health. It is unsettling to hear that nine out of 10 people with obesity have been abused or stigmatised because of it – I have little doubt that for many, this will have caused a great deal of distress.

"As a paediatrician, I want to ensure overweight or obese children do not turn into overweight or obese adults. I have seen children as young as seven already suffering the side effects.

"Prevention is much simpler than cure so I therefore want to see a range of measure including a ban of junk food advertising before 9pm. As recommended in this report, restrictions in towns and cities that prevent new fast food shops opening near schools and Personal, Social and Health Education embedded in the curriculum and delivered by trained staff in all primary and secondary schools. We also need to see weight management services provided for children and young people who are already seriously overweight."