NOF Livid at no QOF for Childhood Obesity

In February 2009 NOF welcomed media reports that the Department of Health [DH] was considering assessing 2yr-old's growth as part of its QOF strategy to stem childhood obesity. Now that the DH's latest plans to tackle obesity have been published it is livid that children appear, once again, to have been forgotten.

In Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: One Year On [April 6th 2009] the DH announced that a Life Check for 40-74yr olds would demand that GPs offered weight-loss counselling to overweight/obese patients. This is not a new QOF, however, simply a bolt-on to the current vascular screening programme. Dr David Haslam, NOF's Chairman and Clinical Director said I'm a screenaholic but if the Government is not going to pay us any more GPs are not going to be able to help?

Measures to identify children at risk of obesity or treating them continue not to get the QOF demanded by the NOF. In a reply to a NOF question put to him at a Fabian Society meeting in July 2008, Health Minister, Alan Johnson, confirmed that QOFs were crucial to the Governments fight against obesity but he obviously did not have children on his radar. NOF is sure that GPs in general will do nothing to identify children at risk of obesity or treat those that are unless they get QOF payments for so doing.

In February, too, NOF stated that it would like to see further body mass index [BMI] assessment in schools. The Reception Year and Yr 6 measures are good public health snapshots of the nation's childhood epidemic but fail completely to identify any escalation of unhealthy weight in school. That could now change in Scotland with the SNP tabling its intention to initiate annual checks. NOF states that this is long overdue: in 2004 the House of Commons recommended Annual checks to achieve the Chief Medical Officer's requirement that all primary care staff identify the early signs of obesity in children and offer interventions at an early stage. Sir Liam Donaldson made this deman in 2003! Now, perhaps, Scotland is enacting the provisions made in the Health & Social Care Act 2008 which foresees annual checks throughout the UK from the age of 2.