100.We also heard concerns expressed during evidence that the Government’s current childhood obesity plan fails to strike the correct balance between preventative measures and treatment services. In evidence to this inquiry, Dr James Nobles from Leeds Beckett University made the argument that:
There is a growing concern about how we help those who already have overweight or obesity, yet this was a notable omission in the August 2016 plan. Given that one in three children, and the majority of adults (>60%), are classified with overweight or obesity, there is a stark absence of support services available. A recent mapping exercise by PHE identified that 56% of LAs [local authorities] have a tier 2 weight management service for children and 61% for adults. These services are not intended to support individuals with complex needs. When looking at tier 3 and 4 services, service provision is bare. LAs are spending less and less on such services, year on year. This is not surprising given the emphasis placed on preventative approaches, however it is unlikely that these approaches will support those most in need.
101.He went on to argue that:
People with overweight and obesity face multiple biopsychosocial consequences. There is considerable evidence to suggest that weight management programmes can, and do, help individuals with obesity; not only in managing their weight, but also in improving their physical, mental and social wellbeing. Support services—similarly to smoking cessation services—must be available as part of a whole systems approach to tackling obesity. We cannot expect treatment programmes to be efficacious in the long-term if peoples’ environments are not salutogenic. Nor can we expect a preventative approach to adequately support the needs of individuals already with overweight and obesity.
102.We heard evidence that resources such as the National Child Measurement Programme could, if effectively utilised, be a tool for referring people into weight management services. We also heard that, once children have been referred, these services must provide a multidisciplinary approach, covering mental health, physical health, educational and social needs.
103.We heard that signposting to appropriate advice, and where necessary, timely referrals for treatment was inconsistent for children living with childhood obesity. The Government must ensure there are robust systems in place not only to identify children who are overweight or obese, but to ensure that these children are offered effective help through a multidisciplinary, family-centric approach. This should include children identified by the National Child Measurement Programme. Addressing health inequalities must include providing help for those children who are already obese.
Published: 30 May 2018