Call for specialist weight-management centres to aid obese

Royal College of Physicians of Ireland report seeks centres in HSE regions and more funds

One in four children and two out of three adults in Ireland are overweight or obese

One in four children and two out of three adults in Ireland are overweight or obese


Specialist weight management centres should be set up in each of the six HSE regions to provide treatment for people who are obese, a new report recommends.

Wider access to services in the community, increased funding for obesity treatment and the appointment of a national clinical lead for obesity are also recommended in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland report.

Treatment and weight management services for obese children and adults should be provided in all healthcare settings, according to the college’s policy group on obesity.

All healthcare professionals require training in obesity, healthy eating, physical activity and behaviour change techniques to help reduce the stigma of the disease for patients, it says.

One in four children and two out of three adults in Ireland are overweight or obese. Currently, there are just two treatments centres for obese patients, at St Colmcille’s in Loughlinstown and University Hospital Galway.

Prof Donal O’Shea, co-chair of the policy group, said the report provided a comprehensive road map for managing and treating obesity and he called for its recommendations to be implemented in a new national obesity strategy.

A national obesity taskforce reported in 2005, but few of its recommendations have been fully implemented.

The report makes recommendations specific to particular groups of patients.

It says all women and their partners should have their body mass index calculated before they plan their pregnancy. Obese women should take high-dose folic acid for at least three months before conception and for three months after.

Drugs For patients with mental illness, it says the role of some drugs in leading to rapid development of obesity as a side-effect needs to be considered and addressed, particularly in the immediate period after starting medication.

“All weight management programmes should include lifestyle changes, including improved diet, increased physical activity and measures that help people to carry out and sustain these behaviour changes,” said Prof Catherine Hayes, the other co-chair of the group.

“People with severe obesity should have access to more intensive treatments, including pharmacological treatments, psychological support and specialist weight management programmes.”

Surgery to aid weight reduction should be considered where other measures fail to maintain significant weight loss, she said.