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Obesity: How Prejudiced is the NHS?

13th April 2017

Chief Executive of ABL Health, Dr Sheena Bedi, has spoken out in response to the BBC2 programme Obesity: How Prejudiced is the NHS? broadcast this week

“Whilst I was pleased that the programme raised the urgency of tackling obesity and highlighted the postcode lottery that people often face in their options for treatment, it was disappointing that the importance of managing the complex psychological issues associated with the condition was barely touched upon.

“Having treated severe obesity for many years through a holistic, multidisciplinary tier 3 weight management service I am aware that, particularly within the higher end of the spectrum, the frequency and complexity of the psychological issues associated with obesity are profound. Unless these are adequately assessed, diagnosed and managed as part of a non-surgical or surgical weight loss treatment, patients are doomed to fail.

“We have treated numerous people who have initially lost weight through bariatric surgery but then regained it all and more because the underlying psychological causes (ranging from eating disorders, binge eating tendencies, compulsive eating, depression, loss and trauma) were never identified or managed.

“A significant percentage of severely obese people can avoid bariatric surgery and successfully lose weight if managed appropriately. For those where bariatric surgery is beneficial, it is essential that the psychological aspects of their condition are treated as well as learning life long lifestyle behaviour change.

“The programme correctly pointed out that all patients eligible for bariatric surgery must go through a tier 3 weight management service as part of the process. However, there are very few areas in the country where NICE compliant Tier 3 services exist. Bariatric surgery should be viewed as a treatment alongside tier 3 weight management services to ensure that patients receive the appropriate care they need to tackle their obesity and make a real, long-term difference to their lives.”