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BPS endorses ASO statement on restricting elective surgery based on BMI

16 November 2017

BPS endorses position statement from the Association for the Study of Obesity.

The British Psychological Society is pleased to endorse the Position Statement from the Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO): Response to Decision by Joint Committee of the Hertfordshire Valleys and the East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Groups to Restrict Access to Elective Surgery on the Basis of Body Mass Index.

Obesity is due to a diverse range of experiences people living with obesity have depending on their physical and mental health, psychosocial and environmental circumstances as well as their weight.

We endorse the ASO statement suggesting that limited criteria for approving elective surgery to the simplicity of BMI is not appropriate.  This approach ignores the complexity and diversity of the issues faced by people living with obesity which compounds ambivalence at best and is overtly weight biased at worst.  Moreover, restricting clinical care in this way fails to offer a patient-centered care approach, and does not necessarily align to the evidence-base for those who would most benefit from such surgery.

Weight stigma results in ambivalence about engaging in treatment of weight issues and poorer treatment outcomes for weight based interventions. Increased weight gain, vulnerability to psychological distress, lower self-esteem, greater body dissatisfaction and a sense of shame for individuals living with obesity occurs with experiences of stigma from healthcare professionals, such as this. 

The suggested pathway to restrict surgery on the basis of BMI only and prior weight loss attempts, emphasises the continued absence of obesity management and weight stigma as an integral part of health professional training, especially for those making clinical care decisions. 



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