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Warning over stigmatisation of obesity patients during treatment restart

The Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (IrSPEN) has cautioned against patients with obesity being “stigmatised”, in the restart of non Covid-19 health treatments.

The society said that patients with obesity are at higher risk of complications from Covid-19  and need equal access to treatments as the health system begins to address backlogs and schedule new appointments.

“Similar to most elective surgery, metabolic procedures have been postponed during the pandemic,” said Dr Conor Woods Consultant Endocrinologist at Tallaght University Hospital,

“However, due to the progressive nature of diabetes, delaying surgery can increase future health complications and even earlier death.

“The traditional ‘weight-centric’ criteria for patient prioritisation needs to change.”

IrSPEN spokesperson and Metabolic Physician Professor Carel le Roux said overcoming ‘obesity stigma’ was an essential first step for effectively delivering the plan.

“Obesity is at epidemic scale in Ireland, as over a million people live with or are at risk of the complications of the disease,” said Prof le Roux.

“Ireland’s public health system has the lowest funding per capita for obesity treatment in Europe. Type 2 diabetes is a major complication of obesity and affects 200,000 people. This single obesity complication accounts for more than 10 per cent of the overall healthcare budget”.

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