28 April 2019

Child Obesity 'Mustn't Be Swept Under the Carpet', Says RCGP

Commenting on research being presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"Nobody wants to think of themselves or their child as overweight or unhealthy, but the stark truth is that overweight and obese children face numerous, serious health-related problems – both physical and mental – in the years ahead, if their weight is not addressed.

"This study shows how underestimation is prevalent across the board – including among healthcare professionals – and highlights the importance of taking accurate measurements, so that appropriate and consistent interventions can be implemented to support a child to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.

"It also emphasises how vital it is to be frank about weight from an early age as forging healthy behaviours in early life will have a very real impact on a patient's long-term health and wellbeing into adulthood. Childhood obesity is one of the most serious health challenges of our time and one that mustn't be swept under the carpet.

"GPs and our teams will routinely talk to parents about simple lifestyle changes that can have a positive impact on their children's health but this is a society-wide responsibility and we need to work with parents, healthcare professionals, teachers, advertisers, food manufacturers, retailers, public health officials and others, in order to evoke genuine change.

"Now that this finding has been observed, it would be useful to see some research into the reasons why people are more likely to underestimate children's weight, so that we can start properly and effectively addressing the problem.

"Physical activity and lifestyle is a clinical priority for the College and we have developed resources to support GPs and healthcare professionals to have what can often be difficult conversations with patients about their weight, and the weight of their children.

"We have also embarked on a partnership with parkrun UK, which has already seen thousands of patients – including children - take part in local running events in their communities, and we will soon be launching another scheme to support GP practices in encouraging patients to get more active."

Further Information
RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575/7494
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.