DOCTORS have today called for co-ordinated action to address Scotland’s obesity epidemic.
The call follows a debate at the BMA’s annual conference in Liverpool where Dr Luke Boyle, a trainee doctor in Lothian, said:
“People who are obese have complex medical, psychological and social needs. Many are unhappy with their weight and we need to help them to make positive change.
“Meanwhile the food industry targets children with pervasive advertising campaigns encouraging them and their parents to buy cheap, easily accessible junk food.
“Too many government programmes established to tackle obesity are short term and don’t have the time to make a difference. A focused and co-ordinated long term approach to develop and deliver a strategy to reduce the rising obesity epidemic is long overdue.
“Multi-disciplinary weight management units can be highly effective, but too few exist. The health problems associated with obesity are increasing and we need to have the services and knowledge to respond to this need.”
Responding to the debate, BMA Scotland chair, Dr Peter Bennie, said: “Almost every doctor working in the NHS today will be dealing with patients who are overweight or obese.
“It is therefore essential that future educational programmes for doctors include information to help them understand the medical risks to their patients.
“Obesity is a social issue that unfortunately has medical consequences and as such costs the NHS in Scotland as much as £600 million each year. The NHS is literally buckling under the pressure of the health problems associated with obesity such as diabetes, liver disease and cancer.
“A co-ordinated approach to help people to make healthy choices with regard to their diet and activity levels would certainly be a very positive step towards making a difference to the health of Scots.”