Obesity Prejudice in the NHS
A recent BBC TV programme hosted by Professor Rachel Batterham, a world leading expert in obesity at University College, London, highlighted the problems associated with obesity prejudice in the NHS.
Professor Batterham talked about bariatric surgery which can help some people with obesity to lose weight and can improve diabetes, yet is being denied to many people. She explored some of the reasons for this "postcode lottery", where some people in parts of the UK have easier access to surgery than others. She found that some of the people who make the decisions about how many operations can be performed (Clinical Commissioning Groups which are made up of GPs and other staff) were worried about the costs of surgery - even though many studies have shown that the surgery actually saves money in the long run (in fact it pays for itself after 4 years by reducing diabetes and improving health).
She also highlighted how a culture where society and some health care professionals blame people for becoming obese, can consciously or unconsciously influence decisions about the level of care and support provided to them.
This was an excellent programme that highlighted a problem that affects thousands of people. Hopefully this will start a conversation about how we tackle bias, stigma and prejudice towards obesity in our society.
Click to watch the programme on BBC iPlayer at