Wales politics

Expert denies claim obesity treatment in Wales is improving

Obese man on weighing scales Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Around 58% of adults in Wales are believed to be overweight or obese

A leading obesity expert has rejected a report which says services offered to treat the condition have improved.

The Welsh government report concluded that all health boards across Wales had made progress.

But National Obesity Forum Wales chairman Dr Nadim Haboubi said the resources needed to tackle obesity properly were not being provided.

He warned Wales had been "talking a lot" about the issue but had "done very little" to deal with it.

The report, published on Wednesday, was an update on a strategy to manage and treat the condition launched in 2010, the All-Wales Obesity Pathway.

Obesity care is divided into four levels - the first starts with help from GPs and the fourth is bariatric surgery or other medical help.

The report said only Aneurin Bevan health board was offering level three management services, including clinics in the community or hospital, to all the minimum standards.

But it said five other boards were meeting some of the standards, or providing the services for a group such as orthopaedic patients.

All health boards had access to level four services, the report said, but none were meeting the minimum requirements fully.

Level one and level two services were provided across Wales, the report noted.

Image caption Dr Nadim Haboubi believes Wales is behind much of the rest of the Western world on tackling obesity

Health Minister Mark Drakeford said the document showed "the progress we have made, however, there is more to be done and in some areas the provision of services remains inconsistent".

He added: "We will continue to do all we can to encourage and support individuals to make healthier lifestyle choices, including having a healthier diet and being more physically active, that will benefit all of society."


But leading specialist Dr Haboubi told BBC Wales: "I'm well aware that very little progress has been made in terms of resources made available [and] services available.

"The resources have not been made available by local health boards to address obesity, to my knowledge.

"You can't provide services unless you provide resources, I'm not saying massive amounts of cash but you certainly need some resources to be made available, I'm not aware of any."

Illnesses related to obesity are estimated to cost the Welsh NHS £73m a year.

Dr Haboubi warned that without a "comprehensive pathway" of care the obesity strategy would be "meaningless".

"My message to every single local health board is that obesity is a problem and they need to address it properly," he added.

"We've been talking a lot about it but we have done very little."

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