Obesity fuelling adult social care pressures

Weight-related stigmas need tackling to help prevent rising levels of obesity from having a significant impact on demand and cost pressures in adult social care, the LGA has warned in a new report.

Up to a third of adults are predicted to be obese by 2024. The LGA says council care costs are rising as levels of obesity increase, with more people living longer in ill-health with multiple and complex needs, requiring costly housing adaptations, specialised equipment and personal care.

Councils are concerned that a fear of offence and a lack of referral services for severely obese people sees some health practitioners only record a person’s condition, such as diabetes or stroke, and not obesity or body mass index (BMI) – even though that is often the underlying issue.

Practitioners also often compensate for the loss of mobility in obese clients with more equipment – which means they move about even less and their problems are compounded, increasing their likely long-term reliance on social care services. 

In its new report, ‘Social care and obesity’, the LGA urges doctors and health professionals to have an honest conversation about people’s weight when they consider it to be the underlying cause of a condition, and for weight to be routinely recorded to help inform prevention work and ensure that services are tailored to population need.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Obesity needs to be tackled head-on, otherwise people’s health will continue to suffer, health inequalities associated with obesity will remain, and the economic and social costs will increase to unsustainable levels.”


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