Management of weight is an integral part of most nursing practice. Nursing staff provide a key role in identifying those at risk from weight gain and offering advice and support.
is a growing concern across the UK. In 2007 the Foresight report, Tackling
concluded that half the UK population could be obese by 2050. In 2014 the National Obesity Forum stated that these estimates could in fact be
optimistic. It is difficult to assess the specific effect of obesity on mortality and morbidity however, we do know that it is a
contributory risk factor to general morbidity and premature death.
The World Health Organization's definition of obesity is a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30.
The BMI is the most used measure for adults in the UK. It is the same for both sexes and across all ages and as such provides the most useful population-level indicator of overweight (BMI of 25 or above) and obesity. However, it should only be used as a guide and does not account for muscle mass or for fat distribution which varies between individuals. In children and adolescents the British 1990 growth reference charts are used to classify the weight status of children according to their age and sex because the BMI will vary depending on these factors.
NHS choices provide a useful tool for measuring obesity.
Health problems associated with morbid obesity may include:
- heart disease
- raised cholesterol levels
- type 2 diabetes
- respiratory problems
- gastroesophageal reflux
- urinary stress incontinence
- degenerative arthritis
- skin infections
- sleep disturbance
There are also serious psychological and social repercussions from being overweight or obese.
From April 2013 local responsibility for the prevention and management of obesity in England transferred to local authorities.