Expert Report on Obesity-October 2015

Expert report says all healthcare professionals require training in obesity, healthy eating, physical activity and behaviour change techniques and this will help to reduce the stigma of this disease for patients.

Today the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s Policy Group on Obesity has published policy recommendations to address the treatment and management of men, women and children who are overweight or obese in Ireland.

The Policy Group’s Co-Chairs, Professor Donal O’Shea and Professor Catherine Hayes, said this expert report provides a comprehensive roadmap for how best to clinically manage and treat obesity in Ireland in the years ahead and called for the adoption and implementation of its recommendations in a new National Obesity Strategy.

Prof Donal O’Shea said: “Obesity including overweight is now the most prevalent disease in Ireland affecting one in 4 children and 2 out of every 3 adults. This is a huge public health challenge for this country that is resulting in increased numbers of people with diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

“The challenge we face now is to develop an integrated approach so that adults and children who are overweight or obese can be treated and supported with weight management in the community, and in primary and secondary care settings. At the moment there is a shortage of treatment programmes across Ireland and healthcare professionals are insufficiently trained in detecting, treating and managing obesity. This needs to be addressed in a national obesity strategy” Prof O’Shea said.

Prof Catherine Hayes said: “All weight management programmes should include lifestyle changes, including improved diet, increased physical activity and measures that help people to carry out and sustain these behaviour changes.

“People with severe obesity should have access to more intensive treatments, including pharmacological treatments, psychological support and specialist weight management programmes. Surgery to aid weight reduction should be considered where other measures have failed to achieve and maintain significant weight loss.” Prof Hayes said.

This expert report was informed by a consultation with a number of patients currently being treated for obesity as well as organisations that offer weight management programmes including Weight Watchers, Unislim, Slimming World and Over eaters Anonymous.

This report follows the policy group’s first report The Race We Don’t Want to Win that focused on policies to prevent obesity that was published in September 2014.