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Home > News > January 2005 > 04-Jan-2005

NHS to receive £3million for training to tackle obesity

Public Health Minister Melanie Johnson has announced £3million of extra government funding to help healthcare professionals in the fight to tackle obesity. The new money will be split amongst the nine English regions, with the funding targeted at Primary Care Trusts in the country's most deprived areas.

"Obesity has rapidly become a serious problem, with over half of the population recorded as either overweight of obese," said Johnson. "It is essential that people eat healthily and stay active if they are to stave off the threat of killer diseases like cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and cancer.

"But we can't force people to be healthy nor tell them how to lead their lives. What we can do is provide them with the information, advice and support to make their own choices. And this job starts with the healthcare professionals.

"That is why we have announced 3 million to make sure they receive the necessary training to not only get people thinking about the things they eat and how to be more active, but to support them in maintaining a healthy lifestyle."

Research shows that some healthcare professionals, including GPs, are uncomfortable about raising the issue of weight with patients and are not confident on the advice they should be giving - especially on physical activity. The research also found they were not aware of the services they can refer people to for weight loss.

As a result, a directory will be produced to give Primary Care Trusts an idea of the different types of training courses available for obesity prevention and management. The directory will continue to expand as more training resources become available.

One of the examples included in the directory is 'The Counterweight Programme' - a course run by experienced dieticians that offers nurses and GPs training and support over a six month period. Following an initial session the training staff make fortnightly visits to surgeries - helping nurses and GPs to test their new skills out on the job.

A list of evaluation criteria is also being developed to help Primary Care Trusts assess the suitability of training resources inline with their local obesity and healthcare professional training needs. Training resources in this field can vary from guidance on ways to encourage physical activity amongst patients through to training on making behavioural changes.

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