For quite some time, when figures showing the proportion of people classed as overweight or obese have been released, Portsmouth and its surrounding areas have fared pretty badly.
Obesity brings with it a whole raft of other associated health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and so on.
A year ago, we ran a story in which consultant Dr Partha Kar at Queen Alexandra Hospital warned that the obesity epidemic was putting ‘a lot of strain’ on different specialities, adding: ‘If we don’t tackle this then we are in deep trouble – the system will break’.
There is nothing to suggest this has improved in the interim.
Indeed, Portsmouth has spent £2.3m providing bariatric surgery – such as fitting gastric bands – in a bid to combat obesity in the past 18 months.
And that is before you even start to factor in all the costs associated with the other weight-related treatments and procedures that are carried out in Portsmouth.
Figures on how much it costs to send people to Slimming World for 12 weeks were not released.
But we would be willing to bet that the cost is substantially lower than that £2.3m.
This is why allowing the city’s GPs to ‘prescribe’ a course of attendance at weight-loss classes would seem a sensible idea.
But the council, which would bear the cost of this, says it has already launched the Wellbeing Service to combat the problem.
And you can almost hear the self-righteous howls from those folk who believe that obesity is entirely down to personal choice, and that these people don’t deserve to have any public money spent on them as it was their own feckless ways that got them into this situation, etc.
But consider how much more money is being spent by not following a scheme which has been proven to have an impact.
Isn’t it worth at least a trial?