Vets urged to do more to tackle obesity crisis

The growing crisis of UK pet obesity is being compounded because vets do not find it “an interesting enough topic”, it has been claimed.
Weight management expert Alex German told an audience of veterinary professionals, at what is believed to be the UK’s first weight management congress, obesity did not “pique the interest” of graduate vets more interested in “complex and exciting” areas, such as internal medicine and surgery.
Addressing delegates at the Royal Canin Weight Management Congress, Prof German said the problem of, and prejudice around, obesity was ingrained and suggested the focus should shift to vets of the future and vet nurses, “who really do get the topic of obesity”.
Prof German said: ”Quite frankly, vets still don’t find [obesity] an interesting enough topic.
“So, when vets develop a clinical interest when they graduate, it has to be things that pique their interest, such as internal medicine and surgery. All of these things are interventions: they are complicated and exciting.
“If you contrast that with obesity, which is a question of very readily making a diagnosis and recommending a plan of nutrition that people aren’t comfortable with, it’s not exciting.”
Ingrained prejudice
The fact many people have an ingrained prejudice about obesity is also an issue that could take many generations to eradicate, Prof German explained.
”In reality, we probably can’t shift opinions much with current vets, but perhaps we should be focusing on vets of the future and veterinary nurses who really do get the topic of obesity,” Prof German said.
”If we can be training students and others to be better [and] take this problem seriously, I think that is where we could make a difference.
”People need to be talking about this topic early on – talking more about prevention and wellness, whether it is in vet schools or CPD, or as a profession, could also help.”
Prof German suggested to his audience ”growth charts” had a role to play in addressing the potential issue of obesity in puppies and kittens. As with human children, the [pet] charts help monitor weight and give early warning to owners and vets of a potential weight issue developing.
”I believe [weight charts] could revolutionise early life veterinary care. If we could influence the outcome of 10 per cent of the latest puppies, that is a start.”