Joint responsibility to tackle obesity and help the NHS

A recent news story claimed that child obesity rates were ‘levelling off’ amongst the under-10s.

Apparently the number of overweight children has remained at about the 30 per cent mark for the past decade, though the rate is still rising amongst 11-15 year olds.

The news outlets chose to interpret this news as encouraging, but it still points to a huge issue that needs to be addressed. This is still a relatively narrow age group, and the figures for obesity are still high – 64 per cent of UK adults are now obese, according to recent figures.

One in three children being overweight is still clearly a massive problem for our society to deal with – and is going to prove to be costly for our health service.

At Newcastle Clinic, we offer MRI scans to NHS patients with obesity and we certainly haven’t seen any drop-off in the number of patients were seeing. In fact, as we reported last year, the number of referrals we receive that relate to obesity is increasing all the time.

Of course, we can only help with diagnostic tests – obesity is linked to a large number of illnesses. How the NHS is equipped to deal with this remains to be seen, especially with an election coming up.

Electioneering is gathering pace now ahead of May’s general election, and alongside immigration, the future of the NHS is clearly one of this year’s biggest political hot potatoes.

The simple fact is nobody has an answer for how best to make the NHS better placed to cope with the demands that we, as a society, are placing on it.

In the next few months, promises will be made and manifestos unveiled that may, or may not, be kept. But while it is undoubtedly incumbent upon our government to ensure we have an efficient, appropriately funded and well-managed NHS, we’d suggest it’s equally incumbent upon people to help reduce the burden that they themselves place on our services.

Absolutely everyone who needs state healthcare should receive it, but wouldn’t it be nice to grow old and not need it? Or at least to need it as little as possible?

As a clinic with a large, open-sided MRI scanner, we provide diagnostic tests to NHS patients with obesity, and we are seeing growing trends, both in terms of people who need the extra rom our scanner provides, and NHS Trusts with growing waiting lists.

However, it is clear that more needs to be done to tackle the issue from both ends. People need to look after themselves, and each other, better, and the government needs to help by ensuring services remain in place, and accessible, to those who need it.

It will certainly be an interesting six months as the future of the NHS takes centre stage.