17 November 2017

RCGP Response to Journal of Public Health Study on Obesity and Cancer

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs has responded to a study published in the Journal of Public Health which shows the majority of people in the UK don't understand the connection between weight issues and cancer.

She said: "GPs are working hard to ensure patients are aware of how their lifestyle might be affecting their health and wellbeing – including how making often-simple lifestyle changes can help prevent or delay serious conditions, such as cancer.

"But this is just one of a growing number of complex and potentially sensitive issues that we are expected to discuss with our patients, all within the constraints of a standard ten-minute appointment, and it simply isn't long enough.

"Our profession is also facing huge resource and workforce pressures – our workload has increased 16% over the last seven years, but investment in general practice has fallen over the last decade and GP numbers have not risen at pace with demand.

We would love to spend longer with our patients so that we could have in-depth conversations with them about all the physical, psychological and social factors affecting their health. But offering longer appointments means offering fewer appointments, and currently the College estimates that patients will already be waiting a week or more for an appointment with a GP or practice nurse on 100 million occasions by 2020.

"Ultimately, we need NHS England's GP Forward View – which promises an extra £2.4bn a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020 – delivered in full, in England, and similar promises made and delivered in the Devolved Nations, so that we have the resources and workforce to offer longer consultations to patients who need them.

"The College has also made Physical Activity and Lifestyle a clinical priority and we are working with partners to support GPs and our teams to have what can be difficult conversations with patients about their weight and lifestyle, and how it impacts on their health."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633/7410
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.