Page 48

OPINION

PHOTO: GREG WHYTE

There’s no doubt the leisure and fitness sector should play a central role in the prevention and treatment of obesity Professor Greg Whyte ukactive scientific advisory board

O

besity and being overweight is a complex bio-psychosocio-cultural disease which requires a multifaceted approach to its prevention and treatment. There is no one single or simple solution to addressing this challenge. The belief that changing a single possible cause in isolation is misguided and doomed to failure. While there is a highly vocal movement laying the blame solely at the door of diet, this blinkered approach fails to recognise the complex nature of obesity and, as a result, is unlikely to be successful in situations where people want to control weight gain in the long-term. Physical activity in isolation is also unlikely to provide a sustainable solution. We must take a comprehensive, multi-sector approach, addressing the range of bio-psycho-socio-cultural factors, if we are to be successful in addressing one of the most pressing public health problems facing society.

48

Issue 5 2021 ©Cybertrek 2021

Whyte says this is a complex challenge requiring a sophisticated multi-agency approach

Accordingly, the leisure and fitness sector must look to provide a service which encompasses all aspects of this complex issue through collaboration, education and training. The promotion of physical activity goes well beyond weight management and is linked to a reduction in all-cause mortality and improved quality of life, however, understanding the complex nature of obesity and the parallel service required to deliver success, is important in

the delivery of services which will support, rather than alienate, clients. The COVID-19 pandemic and recent data published by NHS England have highlighted the urgent need to address this issue. There’s no doubt the sector should play a central role in the prevention and treatment of obesity and to make this a reality, operators must target the provision of appropriate facilities, specialist classes, skilled staff and a multi-agency, collaborative approach.