Closer DEBATE: Should obese people get costly therapy on the NHS?

Vanessa Feltz and Samantha Brick

by Closer |
Published on

Controversial new guidelines exposed last week reveal that GPs are being encouraged to send obese patients for counselling – costing up to £100 a time – on the NHS.

If that fails to remedy their weight problem, they should be referred for a free gastric band, says health watchdog NICE.

Critics branded the move “absurd,” with economist Mark Littlewood saying: “The NHS is in dire straits financially, with vital cancer drugs and medications… being rationed. Education on healthy lifestyles and a dollop of self-discipline is what is needed.”

More than a quarter of adults in Britain are obese, which already costs the economy £16bn a year. So what is the best way to tackle the obesity crisis?

Two celebrities share their opinions. Who do you agree with more?

"Obese people need all the help they can get" - Radio presenter Vanessa Feltz

Vanessa Feltz and Samantha Brick

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. Throughout my adult years I yo-yo dieted from a size 14 to a size 24. I’ve always wanted to be slim but some people just can’t have a healthy relationship with food. They find it difficult to lose weight, then keep it off. They have an emotional need to eat – whether it’s their upbringing or not, they see food as an emotional crutch, using it for comfort or when they’re bored or for any number of reasons.

I tried many ways to lose weight – I joined Weight Watchers, I had counselling for overeating and, in 2010, I had a gastric band fitted, which I was lucky enough to be able to afford. I’m still not slim, probably a size 14-16, but I am a lot healthier, which should save medical fees in the long run.

People don’t realise that life is difficult if you have issues with food – it isn’t something you can avoid. If you have alcohol problems, you can avoid the pub.

A gastric band has been the only thing that has worked for me, but if therapy works for other people, that’s brilliant and could save them having a rather drastic operation. Obesity is a serious illness and people who suffer from it deserve all the help they can get – in the long term that will cost less.

"Just tell people to stop over-indulging" - Writer Samantha Brick

Vanessa Feltz and Samantha Brick

Being a healthy weight isn’t rocket science. It’s simply eat less, move more. I’m not naturally slim, but I keep a firm grip on what I eat. I was plump when I was younger, but I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror and took action.

There’s no reason other people can’t do the same. Obese people are indulged and normalised – doors are made wider, beds are strengthened to take extra weight. That’s the wrong way to go about it – just tell people to stop over-indulging.

I’m a size 10-12 and, in my opinion, fad diets and therapy don’t work – and even gastric bands aren’t always successful. What works is a healthy lifestyle and you don’t need therapy to achieve that.

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