The NHS has announced that ten new specialist clinics to support severely obese children and young people (CYP) will be opened in England this year. This will bring the total number of clinics to 30, twice as many as was set out in The NHS Long Term Plan in 2019.
The clinics will be able to support around 3000 CYP aged between 2 and 18 years. Specialist doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and dietitians will support weight loss and treatment for complications, and produce tailored care packages with their families. As well as providing treatment, the clinics will work to identify the factors that cause obesity in CYP by considering mental well-being alongside physical health.
This holistic approach is expected to reduce long-term complications of living with excess weight, such as type 2 diabetes, stroke, early joint replacements and mental health problems. Professor Simon Kenny, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for CYP, commented that “these additional clinics are an important step in helping vulnerable children and young people live healthier and happier lives.”
The number of children living with severe obesity doubles from the start to the end of primary school. Current data indicates that, in England, one fifth of children aged 10–11 years are obese. The Government has a stated aim of halving childhood obesity by 2030. The criteria for referral to an NHS Complications from Excess Weight Clinic are a BMI above the 99.6 percentile and a complication of excess weight or a BMI above the 3.33 standard deviation score.