Thousands of severely obese children will be sent to new NHS ‘fat camps’, it was announced yesterday.
In a drastic measure to combat spiralling obesity rates, 15 specialist clinics have been set up across England.
They will treat children aged between two and 18 who are severely overweight and at risk of deadly complications including heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.
About 1,000 children a year will be referred to the clinics under a pilot scheme which has been allocated annual funding of £6 million – around £6,000 per child.
Thousands of severely obese children will be sent to new NHS ‘fat camps’, it was announced yesterday, in a drastic measure to combat spiralling obesity rates
Youngsters will be offered therapy to ‘pinpoint’ the cause of their weight gain, and have group sessions with psychologists, dietitians, social workers and paediatricians.
Overall, more than 2.5 million children in England are too fat, and one in five children are obese by the time they leave primary school. Research suggests today’s youngsters are on course to become the fattest generation in history.
NHS bosses hope the new clinics will save money in the long run by preventing long-term health problems that require more invasive, and expensive, procedures. Obesity-related illnesses already cost the NHS a staggering £6 billion a year.
Health chiefs say the pandemic has made the problem worse, with thousands of youngsters piling on pounds because they were stuck at home during lockdown.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England said: ‘The pandemic has shone a harsh light on obesity – with many vulnerable young people struggling with weight gain during the pandemic.
‘Left unchecked, obesity can have other very serious consequences, ranging from diabetes to cancer. This early intervention scheme aims to prevent children and young people enduring a lifetime of ill health.
‘The NHS Long Term Plan committed to take more action to help children and young people with their physical and mental health and these new services are a landmark moment in efforts to help them lead longer, healthier and happier lives.’ The new clinics will aim to identify the root factors causing obesity in children, considering their mental and physical health, before drawing up a personalised treatment plan.
They have been set up around England, including at Southampton University Hospital, Manchester Children’s Hospital, Leeds Teaching Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
The 15 new services are based on an existing clinic at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, which has supported thousands of children across the South-West since it was launched in 2018.
Youngsters will be offered therapy to ‘pinpoint’ the cause of their weight gain, and have group sessions with psychologists, dietitians, social workers and paediatricians
Professor Julian Hamilton-Shield, who leads the programme in Bristol, said: ‘Many children and young people with excess weight experience significant complications that can make them very unwell.
‘Using a team of experts from many disciplines, including specialist dietitians, social support workers, and mental health professionals, we can pinpoint the exact causes of weight gain and create tailored treatment plans for each child to help accelerate weight loss and address the complications caused.
The creation of these 15 new clinics across the country demonstrates the NHS’s commitment to help tackle obesity and provide more local access to specialist weight management support for children in England.’
Around one in ten children are obese when they start primary school, but this doubles to one in five by the time they leave.
Last year, Boris Johnson launched the Government’s anti-obesity strategy. He is said to have become passionate about the issue after his severe bout of Covid.
The Government has announced a new crackdown on junk food advertising in a bid to reduce child obesity. Food and confectionery giants will be banned from advertising products high in fat, sugar and salt online, and on television between 5.30am and 9pm.
OBESITY: ADULTS WITH A BMI OVER 30 ARE SEEN AS OBESE
Obesity is defined as an adult having a BMI of 30 or over.
A healthy person’s BMI – calculated by dividing weight in kg by height in metres, and the answer by the height again – is between 18.5 and 24.9.
Among children, obesity is defined as being in the 95th percentile.
Percentiles compare youngsters to others their same age.
For example, if a three-month-old is in the 40th percentile for weight, that means that 40 per cent of three-month-olds weigh the same or less than that baby.
Around 58 per cent of women and 68 per cent of men in the UK are overweight or obese.
The condition costs the NHS around £6.1billion, out of its approximate £124.7 billion budget, every year.
This is due to obesity increasing a person’s risk of a number of life-threatening conditions.
Such conditions include type 2 diabetes, which can cause kidney disease, blindness and even limb amputations.
Research suggests that at least one in six hospital beds in the UK are taken up by a diabetes patient.
Obesity also raises the risk of heart disease, which kills 315,000 people every year in the UK – making it the number one cause of death.
Carrying dangerous amounts of weight has also been linked to 12 different cancers.
This includes breast, which affects one in eight women at some point in their lives.
Among children, research suggests that 70 per cent of obese youngsters have high blood pressure or raised cholesterol, which puts them at risk of heart disease.
Obese children are also significantly more likely to become obese adults.
And if children are overweight, their obesity in adulthood is often more severe.
As many as one in five children start school in the UK being overweight or obese, which rises to one in three by the time they turn 10.