BBC documentary looks at access to obesity surgery 

10/04/2017 00:00 
A current affairs documentary about patients with obesity and their struggle to access bariatric surgery airs tomorrow tonight (Tuesday 11 April) on BBC 2 at 9pm. It is presented by UCLH consultant Rachel Batterham and also carries the stories of three UCLH patients.

The documentary, titled “Obesity: how prejudiced is the NHS?”, starts with the premise that Britain has a serious problem with obesity and the medical cost is putting our health service under pressure.

Prof Batterham explores whether there is 'fat prejudice' against obese patients within parts of the NHS that is stopping them accessing a potentially cost-effective surgery, even when recent scientific research supports it.

She considers obesity to be a chronic condition that needs specialist treatment, including weight-loss surgery, whereas many others contend that it is a lifestyle choice.

She meets several NHS patients who say they were made to feel 'not worthy' and were not given access to life-changing bariatric surgery and other routine operations. This seems to show evidence of a bias within the health service.

She also speaks to others who have tried to use the NHS weight management services, with one admitting it actually made her gain two stone.

Professor Batterham says: “Obesity is the last socially acceptable prejudice. You just have to look at what’s trending on Youtube to see shocking examples of larger people being mocked and vilified for their size. Comedians would never mock people for the colour of their skin but openly humiliate obese people who are deemed to have ‘brought it on themselves’.

“It is also a serious health problem that affects 1 in 4 adults in the UK but NICE guidance regarding managing people with obesity is not being adopted, leaving many unable to access the healthcare needed to improve their health.

“We need to increase awareness that obesity is a chronic serious medical condition similar to heart disease. It needs long term management and weight loss surgery is the cost-effective solution.”

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