Give pa­tients tape mea­sures to help com­bat obe­sity, say GPs

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Laura Don­nelly

OVER­WEIGHT pa­tients should be handed a tape mea­sure and told to mea­sure their own waist­lines as part of the war on obe­sity, GPs have said.

Doc­tors be­lieve peo­ple should be en­cour­aged to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their health, in­stead of be­ing “pas­sive” in ef­forts by medics to en­cour­age them to lose weight.

Prof He­len Stokes-Lam­pard, chair­man of the Royal Col­lege of GPs (RCGP), said pa­tients were more likely to act on health prob­lems if they were proac­tively in­volved in mon­i­tor­ing them. GPs are paid to keep a reg­is­ter of all obese pa­tients, cal­cu­lat­ing their body mass in­dex (BMI) as part of at­tempts to track obe­sity and en­cour­age weight loss.

Fam­ily doc­tors say weigh­ing and mea­sur­ing pa­tients makes them pas­sive re­cip­i­ents of care, in­stead of “buy­ing in” to the idea of mak­ing pos­i­tive changes. The RCGP chair­man said pa-


tients should be en­cour­aged to mea­sure their own waist­line and weight, and track their own blood pres­sure in the doc­tor’s surgery.

“By get­ting pa­tients to do this them­selves, it is en­cour­ag­ing them to be more in­ter­ested in their health – in self­car­ing,” Prof Stokes-Lam­pard said. “And where weight is con­cerned – we know that obe­sity is a huge is­sue – this proac­tive ap­proach brings it to the front of their con­scious­ness; it isn’t just a pas­sive thing that they have no con­trol over.”

Two out of three adults are obese or over­weight, of­fi­cial fig­ures show.

An­drew Hardie, deputy chair­man of Birm­ing­ham city coun­cil’s health scru- tiny com­mit­tee, said hand­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity back to pa­tients showed a far deeper un­der­stand­ing of “the psy­chol­ogy of weight loss”.

“Tak­ing the BMI is what I do to the pa­tient,” he said. “If the re­cep­tion­ist gives them a tape mea­sure to mea­sure their ab­dom­i­nal cir­cum­fer­ence – which is ac­tu­ally a more ac­cu­rate mea­sure – they are do­ing it to them­selves and they are buy­ing into it.”

Prof Stokes-Lam­pard said GPs should en­sure pa­tients can track their health, while spar­ing their blushes.

“Some GP surg­eries al­ready do it re­ally well. You do need a bit of space and a bit of pri­vacy be­cause most peo­ple don’t want to mea­sure their waist­line in the wait­ing room, they would rather do it in a quiet cor­ner,” she said.

Tam Fry, from the Na­tional Obe­sity Fo­rum, said: “It is a great idea. The Gov­ern­ment has wasted mil­lions nan­ny­ing and hec­tor­ing the pub­lic. But the key peo­ple in the bat­tle with obe­sity are GPs.”

‘You do need a bit of pri­vacy be­cause most peo­ple don’t want to mea­sure their waist in the wait­ing room’

Even wood­land wildlife get caught out by the Bri­tish weather but this Scot­tish moun­tain hare quickly shook off the wa­ter af­ter be­ing caught in a down­pour.

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