GP: 'It’s not our role’ to educate people on healthy eating
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GP Lawrence spoke to GB News host Rosie Wright about the National Food Strategy’s call for a £3billion salt and sugar tax to tackle the country’s obesity problem. The GP had a few words to say about a doctor’s role in the health advice for British people, claiming the burden of food education shouldn’t fall on GP surgeries.
There is a call for Britain to implement a £3billion sugar and salt tax to attempt to tackle the obesity problem sweeping the country, as well as tackling climate change and cutting meat consumption.
The National Food Strategy has claimed the reliance on the NHS is contributing towards 64,000 deaths every year.
The proposed tax would assist in the expansion of free school meals, as well as the country’s education on healthy food.
However, on GB News, GP Lawrence expressed his frustrations on the heavy burden put on doctors to educate their patients about healthy eating.
GB News host Wright began: “England could introduce the world’s first tax on sugary and salty food in a bid to tackle obesity. Are you willing, we’re asking this morning, to tax your treats to slim down Britain?”
She asked Lawrence: “What do you make of this? Is making people pay more for sugary and salty food the best way to get them to eat less of it?”
“In a word, no,” the doctor firmly stated. “This is the nanny state. We’ve had 18 months of people telling us what to do, and they’re trying to extend that.
“It wouldn’t work anyway,” Lawrence claimed. “Let me pick up the second part of that, which is the GP’s involvement.
“I know people are having trouble getting in to see their GP but we are very, very busy actually because online consultations have actually increased a lot,” he explained.
“The idea that we, as GPs, have time to prescribe some broccoli to someone, or to sit down and educate them, is nonsense.”
Becoming increasingly annoyed, he continued: “This is the sort of policy that the bloke in the pub comes up with without considering the consequences.
“GPs do not have the time and that is not actually our role to educate people in terms of how they should be eating fruit and vegetables more,” the doctor added. “People should take personal responsibility, there’s plenty of advice out there.”
Lawrence explained if a patient came to him in need of dietary advice, he would definitely give it “when it is appropriate”.
However, he stated: “I’m not there to educate a whole list of patients in terms of what they should be eating.
“And it’s absolutely ridiculous that GPs have the time to do that and to prescribe, I mean how do you prescribe fruit and veg?
“The idea, presumably being, that they’re free and if you prescribe them… it’s clearly nonsense. It wouldn’t work anyway.”
As Lawrence calmed down, Wright asked: “What would you suggest would engineer behaviour change for us to eat less of this processed, high sugar, high salt food?”
“Well to some extent it’s a question of education but, at the end of the day, patients, even if they’re educated, they make their own choices,” the GP replied.
“People know that fruit and veg is better for them and, yes, we do have an obesity problem in this country but people are making those active choices.
“There is a limit of how far we can lead a horse to water. At the end of the day, the patient themselves has to make their own decision.
“We need to find a way to encourage people to take personal responsibility for their own health.”
Lawrence added: “To some extent, the National Health Service picks up the pieces and actually takes away personal responsibility.”
GB News is available on Freeview channel 236, Sky HD 515, Virgin Media HD 626, YouView 236 and Freesat HD 216.
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