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Burden of child and adolescent obesity on health services in England

Abstract

Objective To assess the numbers of obese children and young people (CYP) eligible for assessment and management at each stage of the childhood obesity pathway in England.

Design Pathway modelling study, operationalising the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance on childhood obesity management against national survey data.

Setting Data on CYP aged 2–18 years from the Health Survey for England 2006 to 2013.

Main outcome measures Clinical obesity (body mass index (BMI) >98th centile), extreme obesity (BMI ≥99.86th centile); family history of cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes; obesity comorbidities defined as primary care detectable (hypertension, orthopaedic or mobility problems, bullying or psychological distress) or secondary care detectable (dyslipidaemia, hyperinsulinaemia, high glycated haemoglobin, abnormal liver function).

Results 11.2% (1.22 million) of CYP in England were eligible for primary care assessment and for community lifestyle modification. 2.6% (n=283 500) CYP were estimated to be likely to attend primary care. 5.1% (n=556 000) were eligible for secondary care referral. Among those aged 13–18 years, 8.2% (n=309 000) were eligible for antiobesity drug therapy and 2.4% (90 500) of English CYP were eligible for bariatric surgery. CYP from the most deprived quintile were 1.5-fold to 3-fold more likely to be eligible for obesity management.

Conclusions There is a mismatch between population burden and available data on service use for obesity in CYP in England, particularly among deprived young people. There is a need for consistent evidence-based commissioning of services across the childhood obesity pathway based on population burden.

  • Obesity
  • Epidemiology
  • Burden of disease
  • Health services research

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