Sunday 22 April 2018

National obesity programme could save €56m, experts claim

Obese children are at greater risk of a range of health issues. Stock photo
Obese children are at greater risk of a range of health issues. Stock photo

Daniel O'Connor

Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition (IrSPEN) and Metabolism is calling for the introduction of a national obesity treatment programme.

IrSPEN claim that €56 million could have been saved over a 10-year period if operations on obesity and diabetes patients were performed.

Ahead of this Friday’s European Obesity day, experts are now requesting that the HSE provide more treatment patients that can allow obese people to lose 10pc of their body weight.

IrSPEN state that this weight loss can treat the mortality associated with obesity, with approximately 2,000 deaths in Ireland attributed to obesity being recorded annually.

Obesity experts have also said that treatment programmes will “reduce the financial and social burden” related from diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea.

The cost of treating obesity-related diseases was estimated by Safefood to be over €1.1 billion in 2012.

Professor Francis Finucane, Consultant in Obesity and Endocrinology, Galway University Hospital has supported the programme, urging that obesity be recognised as a disease and treated accordingly.

“Failing to accept obesity as a disease contributes to stigma, shame, stress and ultimately the worsening health of patients,” Finucane said.

“Complications from obesity are common, they are costly to manage and have severe effects on a person’s wellbeing.

“By taking this personalised approach, we can greatly reduce the costs of obesity-related diseases in Ireland and drastically improve people’s quality of life.”

IrSPEN have recommended that obesity treatment centres be set up in all six hospital groups as well as one national paediatric obesity centre.

The group claims that a failure to invest in treatment including surgery, weight lose medicine and specialist diet and exercise programmes would be a “false economy”

HSE data recently showed that one in four Irish children and three out of five adults were either overweight or obese.

The World Health Organisation has set a global target to halt the worldwide rise of obesity by 2025.

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