Neville Rigby: |Few GP practices have been resourced, mobilised or motivated to address their patients’ obesity in any meaningful way”

The strategic advisor of the National Obesity Forum says so, in the Guardian.

He’s right about awareness campaigns, which are generally useless for lots of reasons. But he’s wrong in thinking that the solution to obesity somehow rests in my consulting room. Lots of evidence suggests that the only long term successful treatment for obesity is bariatic surgery, but I don’t think Rigby is suggesting that GPs should be referring all obese patients for it.

Sure, obesity certainly leads to lots of medical problems. But medicalising obesity – suggesting that the solution rests in doctors, or in medicine – isn’t either useful or otherwise based in evidence. Suggesting that the power to deal with obesity is remote or removed from people themselves isn’t helpful. Doctors might suggest or guide, but it is usually patients themselves who have to decide to lose weight or not.

So what to do? If there is going to be any government agenda, they’d do well to look at my wee brother’s, and co-authors, paper in this weeks BMJ on the spending for international sporting events and the lack of evidence that this will lead to health improvements for the local people who host them. In Glasgow, where the commonwealth games are coming to, swimming pools in the surrounding areas are being closed down to save money. Now, if you really were serious about obesity, you’d be making it as easy as possible for ordinary, and especially working class (who bear the brunt of obesity) people to get access to enjoyable exercise. Wouldn’t you?

PS The various agencies who have supported the National Obesity Forum are of interest: Lighterlife, Slimfast, Canderel, and a few pharmaceutical companies included.

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