Thousands of severely obese children will be sent to new NHS ‘fat camps’, it was announced yesterday.
In a drastic measure to combat spiralling obesity rates, 15 specialist clinics have been set up across England.
They will treat children aged between two and 18 who are severely overweight and at risk of deadly complications including heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.
About 1,000 children a year will be referred to the clinics under a pilot scheme which has been allocated annual funding of £6 million – around £6,000 per child.
Thousands of severely obese children will be sent to new NHS ‘fat camps’, it was announced yesterday, in a drastic measure to combat spiralling obesity rates
Youngsters will be offered therapy to ‘pinpoint’ the cause of their weight gain, and have group sessions with psychologists, dietitians, social workers and paediatricians.
Overall, more than 2.5 million children in England are too fat, and one in five children are obese by the time they leave primary school. Research suggests today’s youngsters are on course to become the fattest generation in history.
NHS bosses hope the new clinics will save money in the long run by preventing long-term health problems that require more invasive, and expensive, procedures. Obesity-related illnesses already cost the NHS a staggering £6 billion a year.
Health chiefs say the pandemic has made the problem worse, with thousands of youngsters piling on pounds because they were stuck at home during lockdown.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England said: ‘The pandemic has shone a harsh light on obesity – with many vulnerable young people struggling with weight gain during the pandemic.
‘Left unchecked, obesity can have other very serious consequences, ranging from diabetes to cancer. This early intervention scheme aims to prevent children and young people enduring a lifetime of ill health.
‘The NHS Long Term Plan committed to take more action to help children and young people with their physical and mental health and these new services are a landmark moment in efforts to help them lead longer, healthier and happier lives.’ The new clinics will aim to identify the root factors causing obesity in children, considering their mental and physical health, before drawing up a personalised treatment plan.
They have been set up around England, including at Southampton University Hospital, Manchester Children’s Hospital, Leeds Teaching Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
The 15 new services are based on an existing clinic at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, which has supported thousands of children across the South-West since it was launched in 2018.
Youngsters will be offered