NHS obesity strategy criticised as services are cut

And fast food makes up more than half the town’s options for eating out – like many deprived areas.

But Tier 3 obesity treatment here, essentially the final frontier for the most serious patients before surgery, is no longer available to NHS patients in Rotherham. And the service is on the decline around the country.

Joanne Keeling weighed nearly 30 stone when she joined the Rotherham Institute for Obesity. With their therapy, nutritional and physical support she lost five stone.

Her weight loss was on track to be life changing but when the clinic’s NHS funding was cut in 2017, so were many of Joanne’s hopes.

“I haven’t had children because of my weight,” she explains. “I do want to do something about it and I know I can. But mentally it upsets you… People can be cruel.”

Since losing the service, Joanne has since regained three stone – and clearly lost confidence.

She now only has access to a mainstream gym which she finds intimidating. And meeting doctors who don’t know her can be upsetting.

She recalls one instance: “The first thing he said was, ‘I am going to need to mention straight away that you are morbidly obese’.

“Then he said to me: ‘You’re 37… either lose weight now or don’t bother…to be honest I’m surprised you’re not dead already’.”

Joanne says her obesity has happened over a long period time and is linked to mental health issues. She says talking therapy at the clinic was what helped her most. And what she really misses.

But now the Rotherham Institute for Obesity is only available to the lucky few who can afford its £400 six-month plan.

One patient, Alan, has lost eight stone at the clinic: “I’m 68 now, I don’t think I’d have seen 55/60,” he says.

Another man Wayne has shed 14 stone with its help. “I was one of the lucky few that went through the system…my diabetes went into remission.”

Dr Matt Capehorn who runs the clinic says they helped 7,000 NHS patients collectively lose 33.7 tonnes over 8 years, prior to the cuts.

“We see patients every day that need a service like this. So it’s very frustrating as an NHS doctor that now I can’t help those patients.

“We know within one generation obesity, the direct and indirect costs, could potentially bankrupt the NHS because the projections are that it will cost £50bn a year. And this was a service that only cost £300,000 a year to run.”

In a statement, the Department of Health said: “We are committed to reducing obesity and the harm that it causes.

“That’s why NHS England’s Diabetes Prevention Programme will double as part of the upcoming long-term plan for the NHS – over 200,000 people every year across England will have access to targeted weight loss support and advice.

“We’re also helping people to live healthier day-to-day lives – as part of our obesity plan we’ve encouraged manufacturers to cut sugar from half the drinks available in shops and are consulting on plans to introduce calorie labels in restaurants.”

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Philippine taxes on sugary drinks could avert thousands of deaths, WHO study says

MANILA (REUTERS) – The Philippines could avert 24,000 premature deaths linked to diseases such as diabetes, stroke and heart failure in the next two decades after it adopted taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday (Dec 5).

The taxes levied this year could cut consumption and avoid nearly 6,000 deaths related to diabetes, 8,000 from stroke and more than 10,000 from heart diseases over 20 years, a WHO research study showed.

“The new sugar-sweetened beverage tax may help reduce obesity-related premature deaths and improve financial well-being in the Philippines,” the researchers said.

The taxes, part of a series of reforms aimed at helping to fund infrastructure, could yield healthcare savings of about US$627 million (S$859 million) and annual revenue of US$813 million, they added.

The high consumption of colas was the main driver of obesity, swelling the burden of non-communicable diseases, the WHO said.

Retail prices of sugar-sweetened beverages have risen as much as 13 per cent after the Philippines imposed the taxes in January, joining 27 countries with similar levies.

The WHO has backed taxation as a way of curbing rising obesity if retail prices rise 10 per cent to 20 per cent to cut consumption.

In 2013, 31 per cent of the total Philippine adult population of 56.3 million was overweight, the agency said, with the proportion of overweight youth nearly doubling to 8.3 per cent from close to 5 per cent within just a decade.

Countries from Britain to Belgium, France, Hungary and Mexico have adopted, or are about to adopt, similar taxes, although Scandinavian nations have used them for years.

A study published last year on the impact of Mexico’s tax on sugary drinks showed it cut purchases by more than 5 per cent in the first year, and nearly 10 per cent in 2015, the second year.

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