Health staff encouraged to help patients lose weight

The government has unveiled a number of new practical tools for GPs and other health professionals to help patients lose weight and improve their health.

For the first time, GPs and other healthcare workers are being given specific tools to help identify and treat children, young people and adults who are overweight or obese.

The Care pathway for the management of overweight and obesity is part of the Your Weight, Your Health series providing information to primary care practitioners on how they can tackle the subject of obesity and being overweight with patients.

The series includes a self help booklet for patients, which gives patients information on what they can do to lose weight through better diet and exercise.

Announcing the new scheme, Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said: "Obesity has a major impact on people's health and can lead to Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer.

"Most people know they should eat more fruit and vegetables, and exercise more but sometimes people need a nudge in the right direction to get them on the road to improving their health. GPs and other health professionals have a key role to play in this process. They have the early opportunity to broach issues of overweight and obesity with their patients and, if their patients have children, they can influence how parents deal with overweight children. Parents have a huge influence on their children and health professionals have the chance to influence their patients.

"But this isn't about telling people about what to do. It's about supporting them in making changes to their lifestyles that will improve their health and the health of their children.

"The booklets and information we have published today will give patients the information they need to take the first step towards better health."

The government also launched the joint Health, Education and Skills and Culture, Media and Sport departmental Obesity Bulletin, a new publication targeting obesity leads in primary care trusts, strategic health authorities, local authorities, regional government offices and other government departments with the latest developments and good practice in the government's obesity programme.

Last week, Prime Minister Tony Blair launched the Small Change BIG DIFFERENCE initiative, which encouraged people to make small, easily achievable changes to their lifestyles, such as getting off the bus a stop earlier or eating an extra piece of fruit or serving of vegetables a day.


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