The Fat Files: A Guide to Curing Our Obesity Epidemic, from Children Up

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 13, 2006 | Go to article overview

The Fat Files: A Guide to Curing Our Obesity Epidemic, from Children Up


Byline: By Paul Rowland Western Mail

Official fat files released today will provide a top-to-bottom guide to curing Britain's obesity epidemic. A raft of guidelines from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) detail a full range of methods aimed at tackling record levels of obesity in the UK. Under the proposals: The NHS will get the go-ahead to perform surgery on seriously obese children; Local authorities will be told to provide more areas in which people can exercise safely and free of charge; Schools must make it easier for children to lead active lifestyles as well teaching them about healthy living; Individuals are to receive increasingly detailed information from doctors on how to remain healthy. The guidelines have been welcomed by most health practitioners, although there have been calls for the Government to ensure they are properly financed. But experts have warned that encouraging people to change their lifestyle habits will be easier said than done. Bruce Davies, professor of health and fitness science at Glamorgan University, said it may be easier to install better habits in a new generation than change existing ones. 'If we can stop the generation growing up now from becoming obese, it could have a profound effect on the future of our country,' he said. 'We should put an enormous emphasis on those who are now in primary school. We need ingenuity to encourage people to get off their butts and exercise.' One of the most controversial aspects of the new policy is its approval of offering anti-obesity drugs and surgery to children. A spokeswoman for Nice said this be a last resort, and, as such, would be very rare, but confirmed doctors would now have formalised guidelines on when authorisation could be given.

Michele Elliott, director of children's charity Kidscape, said she supported the move, but admitted she was 'horrified' that the country's health justified it.

'It's a very sad state of affairs that these kids have got to this stage without something being done, but it would be an even sadder state of affairs if they were allowed to go on and die at a young age,' she said.

Prof Davies, one of the UK's leading experts on obesity, said surgery was only appropriate when accompanied by a drastic change in lifestyle.

'We know that obesity is highly associated with a short lifespan,' he said. 'I would say drugs and surgery, without question, should be the last resort, and when they are used, it should be in combination with controlling other risk factors.

'There's no point operating on someone who will just watch television for the rest of their life. …

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