Bill Harvey: What a waste
Author: Bill Harvey
When Susie Orbach suggested that ‘fat is a feminist issue,’ the vociferous response showed clearly how emotive an issue obesity is and underlined what a wide range of influences there are over our bodies and their shape.
If it is possible to think of obesity purely in terms of a health issue and a risk factor for disease, then the statistics are shocking. Last week, Diabetes UK published their latest data which included the fact that there are ‘nearly 7,000 children and young adults under 25 with type 2 diabetes in England and Wales’. This is about 10 times the number of previously reported cases. Not only is obesity a major contributory risk factor, but early onset is much more likely to result in blindness.
So is ‘fat an eye health issue?’ Is an ECP in a position to influence obesity and therefore long term eye health? Views to support this might say that we see people on a regular basis, usually have local community links, are increasingly seen as healthcare professionals and can establish a link between obesity and sight loss which might prove a very effective subliminal influence upon future weight loss.
Views against might be that we are not trained to counsel on weight loss, might cause offence, and are not paid to be involved in this area.
Just as we are comfortable discussing smoking as an eye health risk, surely being able to discuss obesity and eye health risk should become second nature to us. Current epidemiology suggests it should really be all hands on deck, and the cost of training and activity fees is easily dwarfed by the predicted costs of diabetes care in the UK.
Moreover, there is good evidence that young people fear blindness even above shorter life span. And what is wrong with extending our primary care role anyway?