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Independent review could phase out end-of-life regime

An independent review of a controversial end-of-life regime is likely to recommend that it is phased out, it has emerged.

The review of the the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), chaired by crossbench peer Baroness Julia Neuberger, has been hearing evidence from patients, families and the health industry.

The LCP - which recommends that in some circumstances doctors withdraw treatment, food and water from sedated patients in their final days - has come under intense scrutiny.

Reports have suggested that doctors have been establishing "death lists" of patients to be put on the pathway. Articles have also claimed hospitals might be employing the method to cut costs and save bed spaces.

The independent review into end of life care system the Liverpool Care Pathway, commissioned last year by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb and backed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, is likely to recommend that the LCP is phased out over the next 6 to 12 months.

The review panel, set up by ministers following reports from families concerned about the care of their loved ones, is due to report back on Monday.

It is expected to say that when used properly the LCP can give people a dignified and peaceful death, but that they found numerous examples of poor implementation and worrying standards in care which mean it needs to be replaced.

– Department of Health spokeswoman

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Obesity in pregnancy 'could increase risk for children'

National Obesity Forum member Tam Fry, who chairs the Child Growth Foundation charity, has warned about the "tragic" dangers of obesity in teenagers during pregnancy.

He said: "Girls are not only getting fat, but getting pregnant.

"The result is not only distressing for the girls but threatening for their children."

Young obese mothers could be threatening their children. Credit: PA

Talking about the increase of child admissions related to pregnancy, Mr Tam added: "I'm not surprised by this leap.

"A lot of these young people are completely unaware that piling on the pounds will not only make them fat but give rise to these other conditions."

Medics 'more aware' about dangers of child obesity

The number of children being admitted to hospital for obesity related problems has quadrupled in less than a decade, a study has found.

Researchers from Imperial College London say the rise reflects increasing awareness among clinicians, who have become better at recognising obesity:

The burden of obesity is usually thought to have its serious consequences in adulthood, but we now see it manifesting earlier, in childhood.

It's clear that rising obesity levels are causing more medical problems in children, but the rise we observed probably also reflects increasing awareness among clinicians, who have become better at recognising obesity.

– Study leader Dr Sonia Saxena

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Findings of study into young people obesity admissions

A study of the number of children and teenagers admitted to hospital for conditions linked to obesity between 2000 and 2009 found:

  • A total of 20,885 young people were treated in hospital for obesity-related conditions.
  • Teenage girls accounted for the biggest rise of admissions.
  • In 2009, obesity is believed to have contributed to complications in 198 pregnant girls. Pregnancy complications included gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, the dangerous condition pre-eclampsia, and neural tube defects.
  • The number of bariatric surgery procedures conducted to help children and young people lose weight also saw a sharp rise, from one per year in 2000 to 31 in 2009. Three-quarters of the patients were teenage girls.

More bananas and less salt 'will reduce stroke risk'

Millions of lives could be saved every year if people ate more potassium-rich foods such as bananas and cut down on their salt intake, health experts have said.

People who have a high potassium intake have a 24% reduced risk of stroke, according to a new study.

Bananas contain high levels of potassium. Credit: PA

And increasing levels of potassium - which can be found in many foods including fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, milk, fish, beef, chicken, turkey and bread - can help to reduce high blood pressure, the results indicate.

Researchers also said that increased levels of the chemical do not have an adverse effect on kidney function in adults.

Previous studies have suggested that older people are at an increased risk of harm from potassium because as people get older, their kidneys may become less able to remove potassium from their blood.

The Department of Health advises that older people should not have potassium supplements unless advised to take them by a doctor.

It says that adults need 3,500mg of potassium a day - which people should be able to get from eating a balanced diet.

The research, published on bmj.com, analysed data on potassium intake and health concerning 128,000 participants, who took part in 33 trials.

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