Study finds wide variation in consistency of care in NHS weight management programmes

A lack of consistency in reporting on obesity across the UK has created a postcode lottery for patient care, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow looked at NHS weight management programmes and found a wide variation in inclusion criteria, referral routes, delivery format and programme length and cost.

The programmes are evaluated and report on results in different ways, meaning direct comparisons cannot be made between different services.

A panel of experts brought together by the researchers hope their suggestions on reporting programme successes will help reduce what they say is the “postcode lottery” of obesity care for patients.

Lead author of the study Dr Jennifer Logue (pictured) said: “We know that many obesity and weight management programmes are highly effective for patients, however, understanding what initiatives work best are key to prolonged funding and best patient care.

“By having the information on how each programme works we can start to better understand what works best for patients.

“This will lead to improved outcomes for all services, potential cost savings and a move towards less variation in what is delivered.

“The lack of consistent and comparable information has led to those who commission and pay for these services showing reluctance to fund more programmes as there is little evidence of what works best and what does not.”

Dr Logue, now at Lancaster University, added: “By applying a consistent pattern of evaluation to all obesity and overweight programmes, hopefully we will be able to prove just how effective many of these initiatives can be.”

The study – Core Outcome Set for Behavioural Weight Management Interventions for Adults with Overweight and Obesity: STAndardised Reporting of Lifestyle Weight Management InTerventions to Aid Evaluation (STAR-LITE) – is published in Obesity Reviews.

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