The Royal College of Physicians has appointed consultant in bariatric medicine, diabetes and endocrinology, Dr Kath McCullough as its new special adviser on obesity. In her new role as RCP special adviser, she will chair the RCP Advisory Group on Nutrition, Weight and Health and become a member of the Advisory Group on Health Inequalities. She will officially start the role on Monday 20 November.
“We face complex challenges when it comes to obesity, particularly among children, and there are significant health inequalities that need to be overcome,” said McCullough. “As healthcare advocates we all have a responsibility to help patients live healthier lifestyles without prejudice or shame. Putting all the onus on the patient to lose weight deprives them of the compassion and care they rightly deserve.”
McCullough, who works at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital and the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, co-chairs the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities South East Regional Weight Management Services Delivery Committee. She undertook her initial medical training at the University of Edinburgh and moved to London in 2007, where she was awarded a Wellcome Trust fellowship, leading to the successful completion of a PhD on novel treatments for obesity at Imperial College London.
The purpose of her role as special adviser on obesity is to:
advise the RCP on issues relating to the management and prevention of obesity in individual patients and at population level
provide clinical leadership and guidance to clinical fellows on the topic of obesity, working with the registrar to oversee the running of the programme
act as the RCP’s primary spokesperson on obesity issues.
In 2021 to 2022, 63.8% of adults in England were estimated to be living with overweight or obesity, while 23.5% of children aged 10-11 are living with obesity. As the second biggest cause of cancer, obesity costs the NHS around £6.5 million a year.
The Royal College of Physicians is a founding member of the Obesity Health Alliance and has long called for obesity to be recognised as a disease in which genetic, biological and social factors all play a significant role. Recognising it as an ongoing chronic disease, the RCP argues, allows for the creation of formal healthcare policies to improve care both in doctors’ surgeries and hospitals and for more significant and far-reaching preventative measures to be put in place.
In March 2022, the RCP called for a ‘national obesity prescription for England’ to improve care and reduce prevalence through delivery of effective weight management interventions.
“I am delighted to welcome Kath to this post with her clear focus on highlighting significant health inequalities and addressing the wider impacts on public health driven by obesity,” added RCP registrar, Professor Cathryn Edwards.