Primary health care increased the registration of users with pre-obesity and obesity, by 167.1% and 46.5%, respectively. The conclusions are from the annual report of the National Program for the Promotion of Healthy Eating (PNPAS) of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) and refer to the years between 2017 and 2020.
According to the DGS, the data “may represent an improvement in the performance of the National Health Service in the diagnosis of pre-obesity and obesity”. This does not necessarily mean that more people are overweight, but that healthcare is diagnosing them.
Among the users registered in the health centers, the annual report of the PNPAS, released this Friday and which celebrates ten years, reveals that “pre-obesity and obesity affect, respectively, 38.9% and 28.7% of the population national”.
The public health authority says that there was “a reduction in hospital production for diseases relevant to the PNPAS analyzed in 2020, which may be justified by the change in the number and profile of users who resorted to the SNS, conditioned by the response to the pandemic” .
This is the example of patients who were discharged from Portuguese hospitals: the report points to “an 8.8% reduction” in reported overweight cases, compared to the same period in 2019.
“For obesity, the number of patients leaving dropped by 8.1% during the period under analysis and for pre-obesity, the number of patients leaving dropped by 3.3%”, explains the DGS.
The PNPAS analyzed the impact of the pandemic on the work of the nutrition services of the National Health Service (SNS), having concluded that 87.9% of the health units changed their routines and organizations.
More than half (51.7%) of nutrition services started to provide more support for hospitalization, namely for patients with covid-19. As a result, there was an 18% reduction in the number of outpatient consultations, compared to 2019 data.
“The adoption of the teleconsultation model in outpatient consultations and the expansion of the identification of nutritional risk to more services were some of the reasons given for greater availability and dedication to hospitalization”, recalls the DGS.
Covid-19 also had an impact on the number of nutritionists working in health units: 51.5% reported having registered a decrease in employees due to sick leave.
“In total, since the beginning of the pandemic, 18 nutritionists have been hired by Hospital Health Care, Primary Health Care and Local Health Units”, highlights the PNPAS report.
However, the ratio of the number of beds per nutritionist is below what is needed. In central hospitals there are 60 beds/nutritionists, “where the recommended is 50 beds/nutritionist”. In the other hospitals, there are “87 beds/nutritionist, where the recommended is 75 beds/nutritionist”.
In Portugal, 44% of hospitals comply with the ratio recommended by a guiding guide from the Order of Nutritionists.