RCP calls for obesity to be recognised as a disease

The RCP is calling for obesity to urgently be recognised as a disease by government and the broader health sector, and warning that until this happens its prevalence is unlikely to be reduced.

According to Public Health England, in 2015 63% of adults were classed as being overweight or obese. In 2015 to 2016, 19.8% of children aged 10 to 11 were obese and a further 14.3% were overweight.

The RCP wants to see obesity recognised as an ongoing chronic disease to allow the creation of formal healthcare policies to improve care both in doctors’ surgeries and hospitals, and so that significant and far-reaching preventative measures can be put in place.

[Obesity] is not a lifestyle choice caused by individual greed but a disease caused by health inequalities, genetic influences and social factors.

Professor Andrew Goddard, RCP president

As well as encouraging prevention, treatment and greater empathy with patients, the RCP wants to see a change to public discourse about obesity, so that those with the condition are no longer blamed for it. 

Professor Andrew Goddard, RCP president, said:

It is important to the health of the nation that we remove the stigma associated with obesity. It is not a lifestyle choice caused by individual greed but a disease caused by health inequalities, genetic influences and social factors.

It is governments, not individuals, which can have an impact on the food environment through regulation and taxation, and by controlling availability and affordability. Governments can also promote physical activity by ensuring that facilities are available to local communities, and through legislation and public health initiatives.