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01-01-2013 | General practice | Article

GP obesity role urged

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medwireNews: GPs should take a greater role in the prevention and management of obesity, according to a report out from the Royal College of Physicians.

The College's research concluded that NHS services for obesity are "extremely patchy" and need to be better joined up, and that GPs should routinely address weight issues as part of patients' risk management.

Along with the development of multidisciplinary teams of physicians, surgeons and nurses, it calls for improved training of GPs in obesity, and the introduction of GPs with a special interest in weight management.

RCP Vice-President Professor John Wass said in a press statement: "Britain is getting bigger and whilst we try to prevent the increase in obesity, we must also prepare the NHS for the influx of patients presenting with severe complex obesity."

The College stresses that GPs have a pivotal role to play, given that patients who are obese commonly present first to their GP, and that they already have skills in assessing and treating underlying issues such as low self-esteem and depression, and tackling other health risks such as alcohol, smoking, activity and diet. This role could be further developed by including aspects such as motivational interviewing and introducing QOF targets on successful obesity management.

The report notes that weight management clinics based in primary care have not yet shown convincing evidence of any benefit, and suggests that GPs should direct patients to local community services, while continuing to promote weight management opportunistically and in reviews of patients with long-term conditions.

But it concedes that "there is a need to address the particular requirements of some disadvantaged groups who find difficulty accessing community weight management groups, such as people with learning disability, physical disability, mental health issues, those living in rural locations, socially excluded groups and those with severe degrees of morbid obesity".

medwireNews is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Caroline Price, Senior medwireNews Reporter