The British Dietetic Association (BDA) has welcomed the UK government announcement of additional funding for obesity services in the UK. However, they’ve sounded a note of caution, as the BDA wants to ensure that the services are run by experts and that people from all areas, age groups, and economic status has access to the support they need.
The plan outlined by the government today makes the following pledges:
- £100 million to support children, adults and families achieve and maintain a healthier weight
- Sir Keith Mills appointed to advise on a new incentives and reward approach to encourage healthy behaviours
- Measures part of landmark obesity strategy published by the Prime Minister last July
Responding to the announcement, Dr Amanda Avery, Chair of the BDA Obesity Specialist Group, said, “This new funding is a welcome step towards providing better and more consistent support to the many people of all ages living with obesity in England. It remains to be seen exactly how this money will be spent, though it seems unlikely that this £100 million will be sufficient on its own to ensure that services are provided to all age groups and in all areas. We hope government will go further to end the current post-code lottery for services and that services can be extended to support weight loss maintenance.”
Dr Julie Lanigan, Vice-Chair of the BDA Paediatrics Specialist Group, said, “These services should be led by experts experienced in developing and delivering interventions for the prevention and treatment of obesity with evidence to show they are effective in the short- and long-term. We are keen to work with government to ensure that this money is spent effectively, and it is equally important that they work with service users –people living with obesity– to design services that work for them and meet their needs.
“This money is separate to the expected announcement on local authority public health funding, which also needs to be significantly increased to reverse several years-worth of real term cuts.”
Obesity is a common problem in the UK, which the NHS says affects as many as 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children. Research has associated country’s with higher levels of obesity to more negative outcomes from the COVID pandemic, which scientists say shows that governments need to address health and weight management across the community as a priority for future pandemic preparation.