The report, entitled “Social Care and Obesity” warned that councils are concerned that fear of causing offence and a lack of referral services for severely obese people means some health practitioners only record a person’s condition, such as diabetes or stroke, in data and not obesity or BMI even though that is often the underlying problem.
Practitioners often compensate for the loss of mobility in obese clients with more equipment, meaning they move about even less and their problems are compounded, increasing their likely long-term reliance on social care.
The report urges doctors and health professionals “to have an honest conversation about people’s weight” when they consider it to be the underlying cause of a condition, and for weight to be routinely recorded in data collection to help inform prevention work.
It adds that this “frank approach” has become more urgent considering that severe obesity rates have soared seven-fold for men and almost trebled for women since the mid-90s, with obesity rates increasing most among those from more deprived backgrounds.
Rising obesity levels have led to a rise in demand for specialist bariatric equipment for heavier patients, with some councils reporting a 47 per cent increase in spend on this – considerably more expensive than standard care equipment.
Obesity is linked to diseases including Type Two diabetes, hypertension, some cancers, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and musculoskeletal conditions. These affect people’s ability to live independently, leading to increased benefit costs and demand for social care, which is already under significant stress.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We remain committed to helping everyone live longer, healthier and happier lives and delivering on the Prime Minister’s priority of tackling obesity, reducing health inequalities and reducing the demand on the NHS and social care.
“We are taking bold action in our new obesity strategy – banning unhealthy food adverts before 9pm, ending deals like ‘buy one, get one free’ on unhealthy food, and introducing calorie counts on menus to help people make healthy choices.
“We know losing weight is hard, and we are working on plans to make more weight loss support available through doctors. We’ll set out further detail on this in due course.”