NHS to pilot weight loss jabs to tackle obesity

One quarter of year 6 schoolchildren now obese

The NHS will pilot weight loss jabs over the next two years in a bid to tackle the obesity crisis across the UK.

Backed by £40 million worth of funding, the pilot will explore ways to make obesity drugs accessible to patients living with obesity outside of hospital settings.

Earlier this year, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended the use of Semaglutide – also known as Wegovy – for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35 and one weight-related health condition.

Known as GLP-1 analogues, they work by mimicking the hormones that help people feel full after eating.

According to the government release, there is evidence from clinical trials that – when prescribed alongside diet, physical activity and behavioural support – people taking a weight-loss drug can lose up to 15% of their body weight after one year.

NICE advise that Wegovy should only be available via specialist weight management services, which are largely hospital based. This would mean only around 35,000 people would have access to Wegovy, with tens of thousands more potentially eligible.

Next generation of obesity drugs

Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said: ‘Obesity costs the NHS around £6.5 billion a year and is the second biggest cause of cancer.

‘This next generation of obesity drugs have the potential to help people lose significant amounts of weight, when prescribed with exercise, diet and behavioural support.

‘Tackling obesity will help to reduce pressure on the NHS and cut waiting times, one of the government’s five priorities, and this pilot will help people live longer, healthier lives.’

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Reducing waitlists

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, added: ‘Obesity puts huge pressure on the NHS.

‘Using the latest drugs to support people to lose weight will be a game-changer by helping to tackle dangerous obesity-related health conditions.

‘[For example] high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer – reducing pressure on hospitals, supporting people to live healthier and longer lives, and helping to deliver on my priority to cut NHS waiting lists.’

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