Doctors are told to be frank with patients who have obesity

Doctors are told to be frank with patients who have obesity in bid to get them to change their lifestyle and save taxpayers millions

  • Doctors have been accused of failing to be frank with their obese patients 
  • They need to persuade their patients to lose weight instead of other options
  • Some doctors just prescribe expensive ‘bariatric’ equipment to assist people
  • Price of supporting overweight people thought to be close to £65million-a-year 

Doctors were told yesterday to be blunt with their overweight older patients to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds.

They were accused of failing to be frank with obese patients whose medical conditions stem mainly from their weight.

Instead of persuading their patients to lose weight, doctors are taking the easy way out and prescribing expensive ‘bariatric’ equipment to assist the chronically heavy with everyday living, say social services chiefs.

Local councils, which run social services departments, estimate that the price to taxpayers of supporting severely overweight people – including supplying strengthened beds and chairs, special bathroom equipment and heavy duty wheelchairs – is close to £65million a year. 

Instead of persuading their patients to lose weight, doctors are taking the easy way out and prescribing expensive ‘bariatric’ equipment to assist the chronically heavy with everyday living, say social services chiefs (file image)

The Local Government Association (LGA), which speaks for councils in England, said: ‘A fear of offence and a lack of referral services for severely obese people sees some health practitioners only record a person’s condition, such as diabetes or stroke, and not obesity or body mass index, even though that is often the underlying issue. 

‘Practitioners also often compensate for the loss of mobility in obese clients with more equipment – which means they move about even less and their problems are compounded, increasing their likely long-term reliance on social care services.’

The LGA said the 152 councils in England that have adult social services departments have seen increases in demand for bariatric equipment for overweight older and disabled people rise by almost 50 per cent in some cases.

Local councils, which run social services departments, estimate that the price to taxpayers of supporting severely overweight people is close to £65million a year (file image)

Ian Hudspeth, of the LGA, said: ‘Health professionals need to start having frank conversations about their people’s weight if it could be an underlying cause of their condition and routinely record it; individuals need to take responsibility for their own decisions and Government needs to support them to do so.

‘Obesity needs to be tackled head-on, otherwise people’s health will continue to suffer, health inequalities associated with obesity will remain and the economic and social costs will increase to unsustainable levels.’

A report produced by social services chiefs said that severe obesity rates have soared seven-fold for men and almost trebled for women since the mid-1990s, and that obesity rates have increased most among people from deprived backgrounds and among minority ethnic groups.

Obesity is linked to diseases including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, heart disease, strokes, liver disease and musculoskeletal conditions, the report added. 

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