Childhood obesity smallA central London-based independent mental health treatment centre has launched the UK’s first dedicated Weight Management and Obesity service.

The pioneering psychological treatment programme at Capio Nightingale Hospital offers a sustainable, non-surgical treatment to address the root causes of overeating. It is aimed not only at those who are obese, but also at individuals that are pre-obese or need to change their lifestyle in order to maintain long-term health.

Emotional issues with food 
The obesity and weight management service is also being offered to those who have tried, but repeatedly failed, to achieve or maintain weight loss and those that have emotional issues with food, including a free initial consultation.

Treating the psychological causes of obesity rather than just the physical aspects of over-eating has a 20% lower relapse rate than sustainable bariatric surgery.

Dr Bijal Chheda Varma, joint-lead of the obesity therapy team, and a practitioner psychologist/cognitive behavioural therapist, said: "The UK is at risk of entering an obesity crisis, with the incident of overweight patient numbers soaring. By carefully tailoring our programme to the individual needs of the patient, we can address the underlying psychological triggers for overeating.

"Our therapies, which include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), attachment therapy, interpersonal therapy (IPT) and psychodynamic therapy offer a more sustainable, cost-efficient and non-invasive solution to those that are obese."

Physical and psychological facets 
As with many mental illnesses, obesity and over-eating involve physical and psychological facets so the Capio Nightingale Hospital programme is designed to bridge the gap by addressing both aspects. The programme focuses on the achievement of personal goals, promoting self-acceptance, self-worth, confidence and enhanced interpersonal relationships.

Government estimates suggest that as many as half of all UK men and 40% of women could be obese by 2030. The consequences of obesity are already felt throughout the National Health Service - the number of obese patients requiring hospital treatment has soared from 1,800 to 9,000 in the past five years.

If these predictions are correct obesity-related diseases, which include Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes, hypertension, liver disease, sleep apnoea and osteoarthritis will add an estimated £1.9-2 billion a year in medical costs.

The new treatment model that underpins the service has been developed by the hospital’s multi-disciplinary team and has been spearheaded by Dr Chheda-Varma and clinical psychologist Jeanne Vorster.