The NHS has announced plans to open 10 new specialist clinics to treat child obesity by the end of 2023. The announcement comes as figures show hospital admissions of obese children has nearly tripled in a decade – going from 3,370 in 2011/12 to 9,431 in 2021/22 – leaving health professionals worried at the long-term health difficulties these children will face.
'Obesity can lead to a string of serious illnesses such as cancer and diabetes – bringing a terrible human cost, and also a real pressure on the NHS, said NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard (pictured), announcing the rollout at the annual NHS Confederation Expo. 'Doing nothing now is not an option.'
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Around 3,000 obese young people, aged between two and 18, will receive help to lose weight, in a bid to prevent long term health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. In addition to providing treatment, clinics will work to identify underlying causes for obesity in patients which will mean considering a young person’s mental and physical health.
'We’re determined to halve childhood obesity by 2030, and these clinics are a great step forward to get more youngsters the support they need to manage the complications linked to obesity and achieve a healthier weight,' said Health Minister Neil O'Brien.
'It builds on action to promote healthier lifestyles, including our £600 million investment over the next two years to promote school sport, and introducing the sugar tax, calorie labelling and restrictions on where unhealthy food is placed in supermarkets to reduce the use of "pester power" by shops.'
But Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, called on the Government to 'go further and faster' in the battle against obesity. commenting: ‘Now is the time for bold and brave ideas in health promotion.’
‘Obesity is fast over taking smoking as the number one cause of preventable death in England. More needs to be done at a societal level to address the underlying causes of people who are severely overweight’, Mr Taylor added. ‘The Government must now go further and faster including implementing the key recommendations contained within its own national food strategy, to help improve the nation’s diet and address the lasting and detrimental impact of food poverty.'