Why we need Nutrition Coaches within the healthcare system
The significant increase in demand for nutrition coaches is backed up by the statistics of the increase in lifestyle disease, the failing healthcare system and the views of doctors themselves who are calling out for support!
We are in the midst of a global health crisis. The facts and statistics speak for themselves;
- “Two-thirds of people in the UK who have fallen seriously ill with COVID-19 were overweight or obese and 99% of deaths in Italy have been in patients with pre-existing conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. These conditions, collectively known as metabolic syndrome, are linked to impaired immune function, and more severe symptoms and complications from COVID-19.” (7)
- Obesity rates for adults in the UK have increased four-fold in 25 years. (1)
- 33% of children are overweight or obese when they leave primary school. (2)
- Data from the World Health Organisation shows that global obesity rates continue to rise. This is illustrated in the graph below. (5)
- Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death globally. In 2016 17.9 million people died of CVD, which accounts for 31% of all global deaths. (3)
- In 1996 1.4 million people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This has more than doubled in 20 years with 3.8 million diagnosed in 2019. All the people living with diabetes in the UK could fill Wembley Stadium more than 52 times over. By 2025 more than 5 million people will have diabetes in the UK. The NHS currently spends at least £10 billion a year on diabetes, that’s 10% of its entire budget. (4)
Doctors are inundated with patients suffering from lifestyle disease and current healthcare models are unable to serve patients adequately. Doctors don’t have the time within short consultations to even suggest a plan yet alone implement one and that is a key reason why we need nutrition coaches. In addition, conventional doctors are not trained in nutrition and therefore lack the knowledge to apply nutritional guidance to lifestyle disease. Nutrition is a key factor in preventing and reversing lifestyle disease. According to The Lancet;
“Poor diet causes more disease than physical activity, alcohol and smoking combined.”
There is a movement within the medical community itself for change. The demand is growing for nutrition education for doctors themselves so that they understand the basics of nutrition. Also, the demand is increasing for support from nutrition coaches; health coaches that are trained in detailed nutritional science and can support doctors and other healthcare practitioners. Nutrition coaches can guide and coach clients in healthy eating.
With this two-pronged approach, doctors will be able to give general nutrition guidance and then refer appropriately to nutrition coaches to prepare meal plans and recipes and guide patients in implementing dietary changes to benefit their health. Dietary changes can be difficult for patients to make on their own. Nutrition coaches will have the time, expertise and resources to implement behaviour and dietary change. This will free up doctors time to deal with other patients and also result in a healthier population!
Doctors are working with nutrition health coaches within their practices but there is a severe shortage to support them.
“Health Coaches working with GP’s to help people with long term conditions.”
“Health Coaches are critical to the future of the population’s health.”
Dr Alison Sabine a Consultant Rheumatologist has a vision is for wellness centres and GP’s practices across the country staffed with coaches who will help patients take back control of their own health instead of being the passive recipients of medication. Hear what Alison has to say here.
It is very clear why we need nutrition coaches. It’s time to take action and work collaboratively to provide the best patient care and for that, there is a need for qualified nutrition health coaches.
“Health coaching has the potential to bring about the change we need to save the NHS as well as the nation’s health.”
Sam Feltham, Director of Public Health Collaboration
- Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England, 2019, NHS Digital
- National Child Measurement Programme, NHS Digital
- World Health Organisation, 2017
- Diabetes UK
- World Health Organisation data
- TheLancet, Global Burden of Disease reports
- COVID-19 and metabolic syndrome: could diet be the key?