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Evening Update: Obesity & Mental Health

Tuesday 12th January 2021

Virtual Event via Zoom

5.45pm Registration/Login, 6.00pm Welcome and 8.00pm Close


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Obesity is increasingly an important public health problem affecting patients in mental health settings. A reciprocal association has been identified between mental health problems and obesity, the former often leading to weight gain and vice versa. The perceived stigma and body image issues of weight gain can negatively affect mood. In people with mental health problems, food can be used as a coping strategy, unhealthy diet and low mood can affect adherence to weight management programmes. People who seek help for their obesity have high levels of depression, anxiety, binge eating disorder, and personality disorder. They also tend to have comorbid medical conditions that require ongoing monitoring and care.

The Department of Health and Social care published a policy paper in July 2020 setting out ways of tackling obesity in the population, particularly as a high-risk group in the COVID-19 pandemic. In clinical practice it is also important to understand the specific mental health support needs of this group. Surgery for obesity for those with a body mass index (BMI) over 40 (or 35 with
comorbidities) has been recognized as the only treatment to bring about sustained weight loss, whilst also significantly reducing physical and psychiatric co-morbidity, and is recommended by National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines in these patients. Studies indicate that good quality psychological support pre and post-surgery is crucial to
improve outcomes. 

Led by Dr Anuradha Menon, Consultant in Liaison Psychiatry and Medical Psychotherapy, Clinical Lead in Weight Management Service, Becklin Centre and Clinical Lead for Take Time confidential counselling service for doctors in difficulty for Leeds and York partnerships NHS Foundation Trust, this talk will focus on two approaches to this topic of Obesity in psychiatry: firstly, we will look at a significant group of obese individuals who are in treatment and follow up in community and inpatient psychiatric services for ongoing mental health problems. Some may be under the threshold for referral or currently not meeting criteria for bariatric surgery. Understanding the psychological difficulties and disordered eating in this group is a challenge and is crucial in engaging patients towards better mental health outcomes. Secondly, we will consider  referral criteria of a tiered Obesity service and evidence for providing psychological support within the Tiers 3 and 4.

After attending this course delegates will be able to:

  • Understand the important mental health issues presenting in this group of patients and consider a formulation to guide management and referral.
  • Learn about recent national guidelines/recommendations regarding assessment and management of psychological needs of obese patients, with a focus on Binge eating disorder.
  • Understand the place for psychological support within treatment programmes offered through a Tiered Obesity service in Leeds, with a focus on existing service structures.

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