The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Leeds Children’s Hospital to open a specialist clinic for children with severe obesity in West Yorkshire

25 November 2021

From May 2022 children and young people with severe obesity suffering from complications from excess weight (CEW) across West Yorkshire will receive intensive support through a new specialist clinic funded by NHS England, set up at Leeds Children's Hospital, as part of the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership’s (WY HCP) work to tackle obesity.

Childhood obesity is a significant health issue in the UK and in West Yorkshire, with 1 in 5 children being overweight or obese at reception age and one in three children by year six.  Reducing childhood obesity is one of WY HCP’s big ten ambitions, set out in its Five-Year Plan.

The new CEW service will take a multidisciplinary approach, providing support for children and young people living across the area, and will include a dietician, youth worker, clinical psychologist, service co-ordinator/database manager, social worker, clinical nurse specialist, doctors and others coming together to support children, young people, and their families.

The service will care for 100 children from across the region with the most severe levels of obesity (those with a BMI above the 99.6th centile and an effect of this increased weight, such as Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea, or non-alcoholic fatty liver). The service, which aims to launch fully in May 2022, plans to link with schools and communities to help develop the support they need in a culturally sensitive way as well as developing resources to help even more children and young people with less severe conditions.

Together, they expect to help hundreds of children a year in West Yorkshire, aged between two and 18 years and experiencing health complications related to severe obesity, to lose weight. Children will receive specialist treatment and tailored care packages developed with their family, which could include diet plans, psychology support and potentially medication.

Early action can prevent long term health problems such as type2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and even cancer, which is better for patients and the NHS. As well as providing expert treatment, the service may help to identify the factors causing obesity in children, considering their mental and physical health. Children with severe obesity can also develop difficulties such as breathing problems, sleep issues and mental health problems, which can dramatically impact on their quality of life.

Dr Caroline Steele - Paediatric Consultant Endocrinologist and lead for children’s weight management at Leeds Children’s Hospital, said: “Leeds Children’s Hospital is delighted to have been awarded this funding to develop an innovative and forward-looking model of care, which addresses health inequalities, and importantly helps young people to live their best life possible”.  

Paul Carruthers - Lead Nurse for the Children's Endocrinology at Leeds Children’s Hospital, said: “We are currently working on refining the referral criteria and processes for the CEW clinic, along with other pathways, guidance and documents to help support children, young people and families ahead of the launch of the service in spring 2022”.

Tim Ryley - Chief Officer for NHS Leeds and Beate Wagner - Director of Children Services for Wakefield Council, who are the Joint Chairs for the WY HCP Children and Young People Programme said: ‘We are delighted that a new centre will be established for West Yorkshire children and young people with complications of severe obesity (CEW). We particularly welcome the support available for families to manage these conditions because getting the right support at the right time now is essential if they are to live a long healthy adult life’.

The service will be part of a national network of 15 clinics, which will inform a national evidence base to establish if there is an optimal model of care for treating children and young people with complications related to severe obesity.

The clinics will accept patients by GP, hospital and community team referrals from across the West Yorkshire region from early spring 2022, with a plan for the first clinic to be held in May. Further criteria for referral are being refined by NHS England and the specialist weight management team to ensure that the team based at Leeds Children’s Hospital can make the maximum possible impact for those children and young people with the most severe obesity and its’ complications.