The Government has announced new plans to support those living with obesity to lose weight. This announcement follows the Government’s obesity strategy “tackling obesity”, which was launched in July 2020 – a strategy which Beat have already raised significant concerns about. The new plans include a commitment to investing £70 million into weight management services and a new incentives and reward approach to encourage people to “eat better and move more”.
Beat’s Director of Public Affairs, Tom Quinn says:
A portion of the £70 million that will be invested in weight management services must be invested in measures to identify those with a diagnosis of an eating disorder and ensure that they are able to access evidence-based support.
Many people with binge eating disorder also have obesity. Various studies have shown that up to 30% of people seeking weight management services would meet the diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is a serious mental illness that will affect one in fifty people in their lifetime, however, only one in four who have had the condition ever receives treatment.
It is crucial that those with binge eating disorder are identified and receive the most appropriate evidence-based support. There is currently a lack of training for health professionals about binge eating disorder. Referring people affected by binge eating disorder to a weight loss programme fails to address the psychological needs of the individual and is likely to cause additional distress to the patient but is unlikely to result in positive health outcomes. There is also a risk that weight loss programmes could also trigger a person into a restrictive eating disorder.
We are extremely concerned about the Government’s decision to introduce a scheme rewarding people for losing weight. We recognise the importance of addressing obesity and are awaiting further details of the scheme, however a campaign which focuses on creating incentives to lose weight is incredibly dangerous to sufferers of all eating disorders and people vulnerable to eating disorders'. We will be raising our concerns with the Department for Health and Social care and we are hoping to meet with them as soon as possible.