New NHS guidelines: “lose a little and keep it off”
New NHS weight loss guidelines will advise people to “lose a little and keep it off” for life. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) wants overweight people sent to slimming classes with the aim of a 3% weight loss.
They say that even a small loss – just a few pounds in most cases – would cut blood pressure and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
For example, someone weighing 15st 10lb would only need to lose just over 6lb to cut 3% of their weight. If they were 5ft 7in, their BMI would drop from 35 to 33. (Anyone with a BMI of more than 30 is classed as obese).
As well as aiming for a 3% weight loss, the new NHS guidance also says that weight management programmes should:
– Tackle diet, physical activity and change behaviour
– Be focused on lifelong change, not short-term gains
– Last at least three months, but set target weights for the end of the programme and after one year
– Plan to reduce calorie intake, but not ban specific foods or food groups
– Introduce physical activity into daily life such as walking
– Be respectful and non-judgemental
What do the experts say?
Professor Mike Kelly, the director of the centre for public health at NICE, said the guidelines were about lifelong change rather than yo-yo dieting, when the weight is piled back on after initial success.
“We would like to offer an instant solution and a quick win, a much greater ambition if you like, but realistically it’s important to bear in mind this is difficult. It’s not just a question of ‘for goodness sake pull yourself together and lose a stone’ – it doesn’t work like that. People find it difficult to do – it’s not something you can just wake up one morning and decide I’m going to lose 10lb. It takes resolve. It takes encouragement.”
Gill Fine, a public health nutritionist who led the team developing the new guidelines, said a sustained 3% drop in weight would alter the trajectory of ever-expanding waistlines.
“If people think they’ve got to lose over a stone, they don’t lose a stone and they get disheartened and they go back up – that isn’t going to help them. But if they can just lose a little bit, keep that weight off then that is going to give them a health benefit.”
Sir Richard Thompson, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, said:
“The majority of Britain is expected to be obese by 2050. NICE’s new guidance will help encourage greater coordination of services and provide the support that medical professionals need to deliver high-quality prevention and obesity management services.”
Professor John Ashton, the president of the Faculty of Public Health, says that obesity is a major health issue, and these guidelines are just the beginning.
“These are just the first steps. If tackling obesity were as simple as telling people they should eat less and move more, we would not have a problem now. Individuals need to play their part, but this guidance acts as a reminder that we also need bold action now from government to reduce the huge costs of treating obesity. Stronger more effective policy interventions are also needed, which is why we support piloting a sugar duty, to see how successful it will be.”
However, Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, says that the guidelines don’t go far enough and look like a “brave attempt to close the stable door whilst the horse is still bolting”.
“A 3% reduction may well have some health benefit – every little helps – but if the patient is obese at the beginning of the course, he or she will probably still be obese by its end. At least a 5% weight loss, and preferably one of 10%, have been weight reduction targets in past years and they still should be today.”
Source: BBC News.