Health body proposes incentives for GPs to measure patients' body mass index


GPs should be paid to measure their patients' BMI, it has been proposed.

Family doctors should be given financial incentives for calculating the body mass index score of their patients, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said.

A new consultation document from Nice highlights the need for GPs to support overweight and obese patients.

The health body has launched a consultation on a set of potential new indicators which encourage health workers to assess patients on a range of health issues, including the recording of patients BMI.

"Calculating BMI will enable primary care to identify people who are overweight and obese, which can then lead to primary care playing a key role in in weight management through assessing risk and morbidity, and facilitating access to weight management support," the document states.

The proposed indicators have been earmarked to become part of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), which rewards GP surgeries financially for protecting the health of their patients.

It suggests that family doctors should be rewarded for "the percentage of patients aged 18 or over who have had a record of a BMI being calculated in the preceding five years".

GPs should also be paid to give overweight patients guidance on weight management, the document states.

"Targeting people who are overweight reflects a pro-active approach to preventing and reducing obesity and its associated complications," it says.

"Nice guidance recommends that people who are classified as overweight... should be involved in a discussion with a health professional regarding their weight and given general advice on weight and lifestyle."

Figures show that 67% of men and 57% of women in England are either overweight or obese with a quarter of all adults being classed as obese.

Being overweight can lead to a number of health problems including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stoke and asthma.

The consultation on the set of indicators, which closes on February 29, could see Nice make the recommendations to NHS England and other parties who decide on QOF indicators.