Public Health England – ‘Making reasonable adjustments to obesity and weight management services for people with learning disabilities’
This is a new guidance document for public health staff commissioning or running weight management services, family carers, social care staff and learning disabilities professionals.
Being obese puts people at much greater risk of many important health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, several types of cancerand mobility difficulties. The proportion of people in the general population who are
obese is high and rising. For these reasons, Public Health England (PHE) identified obesity as the first of its seven health priorities.
The two main ways to reduce weight are diet and exercise. For most people, bringing their weight down to healthy levels involves both exercising more and eating healthier amounts of healthier foods. Many people find that participation in some type of weight management programme helps them do this.
A higher proportion of people with learning disabilities are obese. For most of them, the diet and exercise requirements of losing weight are similar to the actions required of others. However, the task of helping them achieve this involves additional complexities. Under the Equalities Act 2010, organisations serving the public have to ensure that the services they provide are as accessible to people with disabilities as to everybody else. This booklet is about the practical issues that can arise and how they have been tackled successfully in different parts of England.
This guidance focuses solely on the direct processes of managing weight through diet and exercise. Some people with learning disabilities have particular problems with weight control as a result of conditions such as Prader-Willi Syndrome or because of
specific medications they take. These aspects of their problems are outside the scope of this guidance. However, whatever underlying causes people have for their weight problems, diet and exercise are almost always important elements in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and the principles discussed here are relevant.