Friday 20 October 2017

Exercise won't rid society of obesity until we regulate the food we eat

'In outlining the many determinants of obesity in the introduction, no mention is made of excessive consumption of unhealthy food'. Stock photo: Getty
'In outlining the many determinants of obesity in the introduction, no mention is made of excessive consumption of unhealthy food'. Stock photo: Getty

Francis Finucane

At a time of unprecedented crisis in bariatric services nationally because of a lack of leadership, strategy and resources, the 'Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016' was eagerly awaited by many. However, Health Minister Simon Harris's assertion at the launch that it was a "really important" step was true for all the wrong reasons.

The document is another step - backwards - from meaningful implementation of clinically proven, cost-effective interventions like bariatric surgery for severely obese patients, who are treading water in services that are not fit for purpose.

As a bariatric physician, I spend most of my time in obesity clinics apologising to patients for delays in accessing psychological and surgical care and structured lifestyle programmes that work well but are not resourced. It is a national problem.

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