Figures show that there has been a seven-fold rise in spend on weight-loss drugs from 2000 to 2009. Whilst NICE advises that weight-loss drugs should only be used after lifestyle measures such as dieting and exercise have been tried, there are worries that this increase in prescriptions constitutes an attempt at a quick fix for this growing problem.
Recent research from the Lifelong Health & Ageing team at the National Survey of Health and Development has shown that it is very difficult to lose weight again once you have put it on. Instead the key is to develop a healthy lifestyle from the start, reducing the chances of becoming overweight.
The obesity epidemic in this country suggests that as individuals and as a nation we are leaving it too late to deal with this problem. It is not possible to ‘fix’ someone after they have become obese, what is needed is preventative healthcare, to stop this problem from forming in the first place.
We need to move to a system of comprehensive preventative care, with lifestyle advice and regular health checks an integral part of our health service. Whilst this may sound like an expensive exercise, the hope is that in the long run this would lead to a healthier, more health aware population and bring benefits in terms of quality of life and cost savings to the NHS.