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Kids as young as 2 among thousands referred to obesity specialists

16 Feb 2018

Miles Choice Landscape

Thousands of children, some as young as two, have been referred to specialists amid concerns about their weight in the past three years.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives showed that health boards’ weight management services have seen more than 5000 youngsters since 2014/15.

In addition, a further 60,000 adults have been referred, as doctors try to tackle Scotland’s obesity crisis.

Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said, as the Scottish Government considers responses to its own obesity strategy, these new figures should emphasise just how crucial the issue is.

The Freedom of Information responses revealed there were at least 1600 referrals of under 18s last year alone.

Hundreds of these were for children aged between two and four.

Health boards were asked to detail how many people had been referred to weight management services in recent years, with some adding they give patients free gym memberships to improve activity levels.

The Scottish Government’s official consultation on obesity – ‘A Healthier Future’ – closed at the end of January.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said:

“Obesity is going to be one of the great public health challenges of our time.

“These figures show tens of thousands of people – even children as young as two – are being referred to specialists.

“If we don’t take steps to tackle this problem now, the consequences for both the health of our population and the future strain on the NHS will be severe.

“The Scottish Government’s consultation on obesity has now closed, and it’s essential that – at the other end of this process – we have a meaningful strategy to improve diets and healthy lifestyles.

“It’s not all about what the NHS and government do – there has to be an element of personal responsibility too – but from a health policy perspective, we cannot afford to get this wrong.

“It is also vital that we see cross-portfolio working on this from SNP ministers as many of the changes and interventions will need to be educational as well as health related.”