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Saturday 1 October 2016 Instagram
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Obesity fat map – are we heading for two Olympic sized bills?

Obesity fat map – are we heading for two Olympic sized bills?

Team GB has barely returned from Beijing and may I say, a heartfelt well done for an extraordinary team effort. The country can now look forward with a certain degree of optimism to the 2012 Olympics and maybe not worry quite so much about how much it is going to cost us – but that is another blog.

This morning I quite genuinely did not have any idea about what to write about, until I watched the news and, oh joy of joys, those lovely people at Dr Foster Research have come up with an "obesity map" of the UK.

The message is pretty clear. Unless obesity is tackled head on we may face a national crisis accompanied by an annual health bill of £50bn, as around 12 million people will be considered obese in the UK by 2010. And yet more good news for the people of Wales – we have a staggering nine regions listed in the "fattest" places in the UK.

Not completely flattered by this news I read on to discover that the London borough of Camden is one of the "slimmest" places to live. However, one comment posted about the story suggested that Camden was "slim" due to the high number of drug users living there - which seemed mainly based on the presence of Amy Winehouse – I am sure you will agree a misguided talent.

No sign of Northern Ireland in either poll, suggesting that, as one commentator put it, and in the words of Goldilocks, they must be "just right"!

As healthcare providers nurses, GPs, health visitors and midwives all have the knowledge and ability to discuss healthy diet options with patients. We know from extensive research that obesity brings with it poor health, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The question is: are we as professionals giving out the wrong message, not taking this matter seriously enough and ultimately putting our patients at risk and our bank balances in jeopardy in the long run? On the other hand – and I don't want to play devil's advocate here – is the message being given out properly but the patients not taking any notice?
The government says that we have an "economic slow down" – people regardless of where they live in the UK cannot afford what they could a year ago – holidays, new cars, moving house – because we are all keeping a very close eye on our finances in order to feed ourselves and our families. Prices at the supermarket have increased by 27% and inflation is at its highest level since 1992.

It could be argued that we are living in a nanny state. As health professionals we all have our patients' best interests at heart, but surely this should be a partnership between us and our patients. We give them all the information and education that they need to make an informed choice about their long-term health, but ultimately we cannot be held responsible if patients choose to do nothing with the information we give them.

Primary care nursing is becoming the focus of healthcare in the 21st century and we must engage our patients in their long-term health plans by way of partnership and not paternalism. Failure is not really an option is it?

Related story: "Fat map" shows pockets of obesity

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