Obesity is a major public health concern and there is no single approach that could be taken to deal with the problem. The proportion of overweight or obese adults in Wales has remained at 57% since 2008. This includes 22% of adults classed as obese with levels of obesity higher across all ages in the more deprived areas (Welsh Health Survey 2013).
Excess weight may increase the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, liver disease, osteoarthritis, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers such as breast, colon, endometrial and kidney cancer. People who are overweight or obese may also experience mental health problems, stigmatisation and discrimination because of their weight. Illnesses associated with obesity place a significant financial burden on services.
It was in recognition of this that in 2010, the Welsh Government launched the All Wales Obesity Pathway and sets out the approach for the prevention and treatment of obesity in Wales, from community-based prevention and early intervention, to bariatric surgery. The Obesity Pathway is a tool for Health Boards, working jointly with Local Authorities and key stakeholders, to map policies, services and cross-departmental multi-agency activity for both children and adults, against minimum service requirements.
The pathway describes four levels in addressing obesity in Wales.
- Level 1 aims to ensure the availability and promotion to the public of opportunities to achieve and help maintain a healthy body weight (self care)
- Level 2 provides of a range of services for children, young people and adults who wish to lose weight and have been identified as being at an increased risk of obesity
- Level 3 aims to ensure availability of services for obese children, young people and adults who have one or more identified needs
- Level 4 is about providing specialist medical services, such as bariatric surgery
The 2014 report evaluates progress against the four levels from each of the 7 health boards in Wales.
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