obese womanAdults who are overweight or obese can improve their health by losing even a small amount of weight, according to health watchdog NICE.

Obesity increases the risk of serious conditions including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, but even a modest weight loss of 3% kept off for life may improve or prevent health problems.

New guidance published by NICE looks at how lifestyle weight management programmes focusing on diet, and the way people live their lives (behaviour change) can help people who are overweight or obese to lose weight and to keep it off.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE, said:

“The number of people who are overweight or obese in England is rising. More than a quarter of adults are now classified as obese and a further 42% of men and a third of women are overweight."

“It not only damages their health but dealing with the long-term consequences of obesity costs the NHS around £5.1 billion each year. It is a huge cost to the health service."

Recommendations included in the new guidance:

  • Ensure services cause no harm: Health professionals and providers should be aware of the effort needed to lose weight, prevent weight regain or avoid any further weight gain. Also be aware of the stigma adults who are overweight or obese may feel or experience. Ensure the tone and content of all communications is respectful and non-judgemental. They should also ensure equipment and facilities meet the needs of most adults who are overweight or obese.
  • Address the expectations and information needs of adults thinking about joining a lifestyle weight management programme: GPs should discuss the importance and wider benefits of making gradual, long-term changes to dietary habits and physical activity levels. They should also explain the more weight lost, the greater the health benefits, particularly if someone loses more than 5% of their body weight and maintains this for life and although it varies on average, people attending a lifestyle weight management programme lose around 3% of their body weight.
  • Improve programme uptake, adherence and outcomes: Providers of weight management programmes should explain to adults who are considering a lifestyle weight management programme: what the programme does and does not involve, realistic goals they might hope or expect to achieve and the wider benefits of the programme and other local services that may provide additional support (for example, local walking or gardening groups).