Time to deliver on All Wales Obesity Pathway says BDA10 January 2019
The British Dietetic Association has been joined by the Welsh Obesity Society, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Royal College of Physicians in calling on the Welsh Government to use its forthcoming healthy weight strategy to finally deliver on the All Wales Obesity Pathway, nearly nine years after it was created.
The Pathway, developed by Welsh Government in 2010, sets out the range of services that should be available to people of all ages to help prevent and treat obesity, across four ‘tiers’. However, nearly a decade on, services remain patchy, in particular for children, with only one comprehensive children and young people’s service available in all of Wales.
Lisa Williams, Chair of the BDA Wales Board, believes the launch of the health weight strategy on the 17th January is an opportunity to finally deliver the Obesity Pathway across Wales. “Obesity is a complex condition, and requires input at every level, from prevention and public health interventions to highly specialised obesity management and bariatric interventions.
“Tackling the problem early in the life course is key, and the BDA believes everyone should have access to these services, regardless of where in Wales they happen to live. It’s time for the Welsh Government to deliver the All Wales Obesity Pathway in full, which includes providing guaranteed funding so that every health board can implement it.”
Earlier this year, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board became the first to introduce the obesity pathway in full for children. In all other parts of Wales, children and young people with obesity have no local access to specialist ‘tier three’ services which aim to help those who are already obese and struggling to lose weight.
Sioned Quirke, the dietitian who leads the Aneurin Bevan programme, explains the importance of their unique service. “Our obesity programme is the first of its kind in Wales, and helps children and young people with obesity to lose weight safely and for the long term. Managing this issue early is vital – it makes no sense to wait until they become an adult, because by that stage it will be much harder to reverse, and related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, are more likely to have developed.”
Services for adults are more widespread, but even they differ significantly in their scope and availability, with tier three services still not available universally.
Other clinical bodies, including the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Welsh Obesity Society support the BDA’s call for action from the Welsh Government.
Professor Nadim Haboubi, Chairman of the Welsh Obesity Society, says “the All Wales Obesity Pathway is an excellent document, but it has not been applied consistently and individual health boards have been left to sort it out themselves. Services for adults and particularly for children are still lacking, particularly in North Wales. I hope the Welsh Government uses the healthy weight strategy as an opportunity to correct this.”
Dr David Tuthill, Officer for Wales at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said “Children with obesity are much more likely to become obese adults, putting them at increased risk of major illnesses such as type two diabetes, heart attacks and strokes later in life. As overweight children they are also more likely to get asthma and less likely to be able to participate in active sports and games. Prevention is vital so we should encourage all children to be active when playing and participating in sports, whilst being wary of high calorie snacks when they are resting. However, we need to support those children who have already become overweight as it’s hard to lose this weight. The Welsh Government has an opportunity to help children through their Healthy Weight Strategy by ensuring weight management services are available to those who need them, irrespective of where in Wales they live.”
Dr Gareth Llewelyn, Royal College of Physicians (RCP) vice president for Wales said: “Obesity is not a lifestyle choice caused by individual greed, but a disease caused by health inequalities, genetic influences and social factors. This is why the RCP has repeatedly called for greater investment in multidisciplinary weight management teams to help those with severe and complex obesity across Wales. Obesity puts patients at high risk of developing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke, and it costs the Welsh NHS millions of pounds every year.
“We don’t have enough services in Wales to tackle obesity or to prevent those who are overweight from developing obesity, and we desperately need Welsh Government to publish timescales and actions to ensure that the All Wales Obesity Pathway is fully implemented sooner rather than later. Physicians see the devastating impact of the obesity epidemic every day, and without health board investment in clinically-led weight management services, we will continue to see a rise in hospital admissions for obesity-related conditions.”
The BDA, RCPCH and RCP are a part of the Obesity Alliance Cymru (OAC), an alliance of over a dozen health charities, professional bodies and royal colleges which are pushing Welsh Government to ensure its Healthy Weight Strategy is truly world leading. The OAC has set out a list of 18 actions that it expects to see in the forthcoming strategy, including the comprehensive delivery of the All Wales Obesity Pathway.
Notes to the Editor:
- More information on the All Wales Obesity Pathway can be found here: https://gov.wales/topics/health/improvement/obesity/?lang=en
- The Obesity Alliance Cymru is a group of charities, professional bodies and royal colleges brought together by the Welsh NHS Confederation to campaign for policies to help manage obesity and encourage healthy weight in Wales. Read their full call for action here: https://www.bda.uk.com/professional/influencing/obesity_alliance_cymru_headline_calls.pdf
- The British Dietetic Association (BDA), founded in 1936, is the professional association and trade union for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with over 9,500 members.
- Dietitians are highly qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems at an individual and wider public health level. They are statutorily regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), alongside other Allied Health Professions
- The Royal College of Physicians plays a leading role in the delivery of high quality patient care by setting standards of medical practice and promoting clinical excellence. We provide physicians in Wales and across the world with education, training and support throughout their careers. As an independent body representing more than 35,000 fellows and members worldwide, including 1,300 in Wales, we advise and work with government, the public, patients and other professions to improve health and healthcare.
Welsh Obesity Society:
- The Welsh Obesity Society promote evidence-based practice and working collaboratively to actively improve weight management treatment and prevention in Wales. We provide an expert multidisciplinary knowledge base and community on weight management in Wales and are passionate about improving the treatment and prevention of obesity. We have an active role in influencing decision making and policy around weight management in Wales and provide an expert, evidence base voice in the media.