Weight-loss apps to offer NHS help to obese

by | Aug 14, 2023 | Health

Getty ImagesFour apps to help people with obesity lose weight, including the offer of medication, could be used by the NHS in England, under draft health guidance.With 30-70% of the population having no access to weight management services in their area, the apps aim to reduce waiting times for treatment.Weight-loss drugs can be prescribed alongside healthy eating, exercise and psychological support.But the much-heralded drug Wegovy has not launched in the UK yet. The company which makes it, Novo Nordisk, recently said it was restricting the number of doses it is supplying to different countries to make sure patients have the correct all-round care and support in place when they start taking the drug.It also makes weight-loss drug Saxenda, also known as liraglutide, which is available.Under draft recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the four apps can be used by the NHS while evidence is collected on their cost-effectiveness over the next four years.Weight loss drug semaglutide approved for NHS useWeight-loss drug heart benefit ‘significant’GPs set to offer weight-loss jab to reduce obesityTheir success will be judged on the change in people’s weight, how often they complete the programme and the number of appointments needed and cost of medicines prescribed. Up to 48,000 people could use the apps, saving 145,000 hours of doctors’ time, calculations by NICE show.Some patients may need to be given a tablet computer and mobile internet connection to access the apps, it added.Another three apps need more research before being used by the NHS, NICE concluded.The technology aims to provide support for those who are not able to attend face-to-face appointments with weight management services, affecting 10-30%, or who do not have access to local help or are on a waiting list.’Patients need a solution’Only those with a BMI of 35 (near the top of the obese range) plus a weight-related illness, or slightly less in some cases, will qualify to use the apps.At present, a quarter of adults in England are obese and more than a third are overweight.Mark Chapman, interim director of medical technology and digital evaluation at NICE, said traditional face-to-face services treating people living with obesity “are unable to keep up with demand”.”Waiting lists are long, some areas don’t have a service, and patients need a solution,” he added.NICE says it wants to ensure it is balancing delivering the best care and getting value for money for the taxpayer. Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said the use of apps alongside life-changing weight-loss drugs would help tackle obesity, which costs the NHS billions every year.”The newest obesity medicines have the potential to help patients lose significant amounts of weight and reduce related conditions, but it’s vital they are used alongside diet, physical activity, and wider behavioural support to help stop people regaining weight,” he said.The drug Wegovy was approved for use by the NHS in England in March after trials showed it could help people reduce their weight by more than 10%, if they also followed a healthy diet and an exercise regime.The drug makes people feel full by mimicking a hormone called Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), and helps to reduce their calorie intake.But NHS England has yet to decide the details of how the drug will be rolled out, and its UK launch date has not been confirmed.There will be a 10-day public consultation on the draft NICE recommendations around the apps, ending on Friday 25 August.Related TopicsWeight lossObesityAppsEnglandNHS …

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