A £100m funding boost for weight management services will help make them a key part of GPs’ routine care, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.
The funding, announced today (4 March), includes £70m to be invested in services offered by the NHS and councils, to enable up to 700,000 adults access support, DHSC said.
An additional £30m will be used to fund healthy weight initiatives and campaigns, with a proportion also going towards upskilling healthcare professionals.
DHSC said this would include upskilling early years health professionals to ‘confidently assess needs, offer family advice and interventions, create advanced training packages and normalise conversations about achieving healthy growth’.
It added: ‘This funding will support GPs and other health professionals to help make weight management an integral part of routine care. It will encourage clinicians to have conversations about weight with their patients and enable them to refer patients to new services.’
Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, said: ‘These measures will allow us to work with local authorities and optimise different areas of our healthcare services to encourage healthy behaviours for all.
‘The urgency of tackling obesity has been brought to the fore by evidence of the link to an increased risk from Covid-19, so it’s vital we take action on obesity to protect the NHS and improve our nation’s health.’
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England said: ‘Living with obesity can have a devastating impact on people’s health and wellbeing in so many ways, not least its link this year to the increased risk from Covid.
‘This investment will greatly boost services for adults struggling with their weight and raising the profile of our Better Health campaign will help to support more people to make healthier choices.’
Researchers have found that overweight individuals are at increased risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19, with health bodies previously urging the Government to allocate ‘adequate resources and funding’ to the NHS to lower this risk.
The funding announced today is in addition to the Public Health Grant for local authorities, allocations for which will be confirmed shortly, DHSC added.