BDA joins ASO to oppose decision to restrict access to elective surgery on basis of BMI

BDA joins ASO to oppose decision to restrict access to elective surgery on basis of BMI

15 November 2017

The British Dietetic Association supports the response of the Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO), to the decision by Hertfordshire Valleys and the East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to restrict access to elective surgery on the basis of Body Mass Index (BMI). The statement is as follows:

"The ASO accepts that economic pressures influence the funding of treatment in the modern NHS. It must also be acknowledged that as the annual Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)  Health at a Glance report shows, the UK has the highest obesity rate in western Europe.

Recently, several criteria for rationing treatment have been proposed, including Body Mass Index (BMI). Unfortunately, body composition, as measured by BMI, is commonly utilised without consideration of an individual’s circumstances. The ASO does not accept the use of BMI as a broad means of health care rationing without considering the individualised risks and benefits of the proposed treatment. Obesity is caused by a complex interplay of factors including genetics, family, social and environmental circumstances.

The ASO considers the decision of the Hertfordshire Valleys and the East and North Hertfordshire CCGs to be discriminatory and believe this approach may inadvertently increase the stigma associated with obesity.

The ASO calls on the Secretary of State for Health Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt to intervene in order to reduce this discrimination against and stigmatisation of people with obesity and tackle the chronic underfunding of obesity services and research."

The BDA Obesity group welcome the release of the position statement from the ASO and agree that the decision of any CCG to limit access to elective surgery based on BMI is discriminatory.  More resources need to be made available across the UK to both prevent obesity and also to support those who struggle with their weight to manage their weight effectively. Real investment needs to be made to ensure obesity levels are reduced.

The statement has also been endorsed by the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society (BOMSS) and the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO). Read the original statement on the ASO website here

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