Move to make weight-loss services more consistent

Wednesday 3rd July 2019

Health boards in Scotland are getting new guidelines on how to run weight-loss programmes in a bid to reduce inconsistencies across the country.

It comes after a 2016 report found ‘wide variations’ in the way Scotland’s 14 health boards approached weight management services delivering lifestyle, exercise and diet advice.

Around three in ten Scottish adults are obese and just under 60% are overweight.

The new treatment standards, which are produced by public health agency NHS Health Scotland, aim to ensure ‘more consistent, equitable and evidence-based’ services for both adults and children.

Cath Morrison, child healthy weight programme manager at Lothian health board, said: “We welcome the introduction of the Child Healthy Weight Minimum Standards for Scotland. We know that being above a healthy weight in childhood can put children at risk of long-term health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and poor mental wellbeing. 

“By adopting these standards to support children and families to work towards a healthy weight, we can reduce the likelihood of these conditions developing in later life.

“A range of population-wide interventions to change the environment and reduce inequalities are crucial measures, in conjunction with the standards, to improve the health and wellbeing of children in Scotland.”

Produced by an expert reference group and endorsed by the British Dietetic Association and British Psychological Society, the new guidelines cover the second and third levels of weight management.

Second stage programmes usually involve diet advice, exercise and behavioural therapies over 12 weeks, while the third tier, for more obese patients, includes specialist treatments such as pharmacotherapy and psychological interventions.

Tier one relates to healthy eating and exercise campaigns while tier 4 involves surgical solutions such as gastric band or gastric bypass surgery.   

Suzanne Connolly of NHS Health Scotland added: “Levels of obesity are strongly associated with the circumstances in which people live. This means there are substantial inequalities in the risk of overweight and obesity between people living in our wealthiest and poorest areas.

“All NHS health boards in Scotland have weight management services for children, young people and adults. Most offer a range of preventative and treatment services to empower and support people to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

“The standards for the delivery of weight management services published today aim to ensure that no matter where in Scotland you live, you can access the same high-quality weight management support”.