Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Health Bosses Pay Diet Firm for Advice You Can Get on NHS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Health Bosses Pay Diet Firm for Advice You Can Get on NHS

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Blunden

PRIVATE firms are set to make record profits as the NHS tackles London's obesity crisis.

A weight-loss company is setting its sights on primary care trusts across the capital after winning a contract with London's "fattest borough".

Sureslim, which promises patients they can lose about 4.5kg (10lb) a month, has nearly doubled its turnover in a year. The value of its approach is questioned by some academics and campaigners and its product has not been put under trial in Britain.

The Department of Health is encouraging primary care trusts to seek help from private firms through its [pounds sterling]372 million Change 4 Life strategy to fight obesity. One in five adults in London is classed as clinically obese - or so fat that their health is in danger.

Barking and Dagenham primary care trust has paid more than [pounds sterling]53,000 so far for 180 people to be put through Sureslim's six-week bespoke meal plan. The money is equivalent to the salary of two NHS dieticians.

The PCT says Sureslim offered better value than stomach-stapling and gastric band surgery, which can cost up to [pounds sterling]10,000 a time. Daryl Taylor, chief executive of Sureslim UK, said: "We offer a tailor-made solution. What makes us special is the support that goes with it.

"We are looking at targeting other London boroughs from October when we have concrete results from Barking and Dagenham."

But Dr Kevin Whelan, nutritional sciences lecturer at King's College London, said: "The advice they seem to be giving sounds like nothing more than good standard dietary advice to eat low glycemic index foods and more fruit and vegetables. It's the same advice any NHS dietician would give you."

Professor Wendy Savage, co-chairwoman of Keep Our NHS Public, added: "We are concerned the service could be inferior to that offered in NHS hospitals. …

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