Charity HOOP UK calls for Government to setup a Department of Obesity

UK-wide report finds savage cuts in funding to tackle country’s growing health and obesity problem.

AN influential obesity charity is calling for the new Government to establish a Department of Obesity to tackle the “epidemic” facing the UK today.

The UK Charity HOOP UK (Helping Overcome Obesity Problems) made the call following shocking new figures revealed in its latest report that has uncovered savage cuts in public spending on obesity throughout 2014 – despite politicians’ headlines and hand-wringing on the subject.

The 2015 HOOP Report used Freedom of Information requests across the country to discover how much funding was currently available via Local Authorities for the treatment of obesity as a health issue.

A total of 132 local authorities responded and revealed:

• On average 2.26% of the public health allocation was spent on weight management services – a 10% reduction compared to 2013.
• On average 0.74% of the allocation was spent on children’s weight management services – a 17% reduction compared to 2013.
• Approximately 1 in 3 local authorities are not providing any support for overweight or obese children, young people or adults.
• Local authorities are providing services for less than 1% (0.86%) of children in need.
• These allocations are extremely low when compared to: Substance misuse (26%), Sexual health (22%) and Smoking (5%).
• This disparity is more problematic when the direct and indirect costs of each public health issue are considered:
Obesity (£6.1bn (direct) & £27bn (indirect));
Drugs misuse (£488 m & £14.9bn);
Alcohol misuse (£3.5bn & £21bn)
Sexual health (£1.5bn & £14.1bn) respectively.

CEO of HOOP, Jill Tipping, said “We are disappointed and actually shocked at the figures we have collated as to how little is being put into the treatment of obesity in this country. The indirect cost of obesity is so far-reaching that the core issues and a bigger understanding of this complex health issues needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.”

HOOP is calling for the new Government to create a Department of Obesity to address the ever increasing health issues for both children and adults. It cites the example of the UK Government having a Department of Sport when approximately 35% of the population play sport once a week, and yet with 1 in 3 children and 2 in 3 adults suffer daily due to their weight but there is no national policy or ministerial post assigned to the issue. HOOP believes this needs to change.

Jill added: “As the voice of the obese person, HOOP is ready to work with partners at all levels to address this lack of cohesive action. We are not here just to make a noise. We are here to take action and work on solutions for our members, their families and future generations.

“This problem is not going to go away. It needs to be understood, plans put in place and action taken. Our band of Experts by Experience are ready to get involved do their bit, but we need direction and leadership. That has to come from the top.

“Local Authorities have statutory targets to meet when dealing with drugs, alcohol misuse and sexual health issues, but they have no such incentives when it comes to tackling obesity. That makes it the poor relation when it comes to funding as LA’s have no Government targets to meet to ensure this issue is being tackled effectively. More than a third of the Local Authorities we contacted had no provision at all – and frankly that is disgraceful.”

UK HOOP members also report that weight management services currently available are often ‘patchy’ at best and the request is that monitoring systems are put in place to ensure services fall within NICE guidelines.

The central mission of HOOP UK is to Overcome Obesity issues. It is not a ‘fat acceptance’ group as it fully recognises the impact of weight on health and well being. It does however strive to break down the stigma surrounding obesity which is detrimental to the individual weight loss journeys of those who struggle on a daily basis with weight issues.