NHS to open first specialist clinics for severely obese children
Severely obese children and young people will receive intensive support in the coming months thanks to a pilot of 15 new specialist clinics set up by the NHS in England.
One thousand children a year, who are aged between two and 18 and experiencing health complications related to severe obesity, will be supported to lose weight through the new services. Children will also receive specialist treatment and tailored care packages developed with their family, which could include diet plans, mental health treatment and coaching.
Early action can prevent long term health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and even cancer, which is better for patients and the NHS. The rollout of the pilot delivers on the NHS Long Term Plan ambition to treat children for severe complications related to their obesity, avoiding the need for more invasive treatment.
Group sessions will be provided with a full clinical team, including support from dietitians, psychologists, specialist nurses, social workers, youth workers and a paediatrician to ensure all health needs of each child are met. As well as providing expert treatment, the services will identify the factors causing obesity in children, considering their mental and physical health.
Obesity affects one in five children in the UK and can increase the likelihood of a child developing serious health issues such as Type 2 diabetes, liver conditions and early heart disease. Children who are severely obese can also develop difficulties such as breathing problems, sleep issues and mental health problems, which can dramatically impact their quality of life.
In England, the number of children living with obesity doubles from the start of primary school to the end of primary school – with latest data showing that one fifth of children aged 10-11 are obese in England.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England said: “The pandemic has shone a harsh light on obesity – with many vulnerable young people struggling with weight gain during the pandemic. Left unchecked, obesity can have other very serious consequences, ranging from diabetes to cancer. This early intervention scheme aims to prevent children and young people enduring a lifetime of ill-health.
“The NHS Long Term Plan committed to take more action to help children and young people with their physical and mental health and these new services are a landmark moment in efforts to help them lead longer, healthier and happier lives.”