Obesity services increased to help more Queensland children

13 April 2016

More children and young people battling obesity will get the support they need to live a healthier life, thanks to new and increased services through the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

From April 13, the existing specialist weight management clinics offered at the hospital will increase from monthly to weekly.

Fortnightly satellite clinics will also begin in Ipswich on 20 April, providing local children and families with public weight management services in the area for the first time.
These clinics will be staffed by a doctor, dietitian and psychologist.

The changes will deliver an extra 20 appointments for Queensland children every month.

Children’s Health Queensland Director of Dietetics Dr Robyn Littlewood said the referral criteria for the clinics had been modified to enable access for overweight children in a bid to prevent them becoming obese which is associated with a range of ongoing health problems.

“Queensland has the highest rates of obesity in the country with around 27.5% of children and 64.9% of adults diagnosed as overweight or obese,” Dr Littlewood said.

“If left untreated, childhood obesity can not only impact a child’s emotional state but also lead to serious health issues including hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular complications”.

“Early detection is the key to prevention. By identifying children before their weight reaches obesity and addressing the underlying social, environmental and emotional factors contributing to their weight gain, we can change their whole future,” she said.

The multi-disciplinary clinics at the Queensland Chidren’s Hospital, the first of their kind in the state when launched in May 2015, currently see about five children each clinic.

In the past 11 months, the clinics have seen more 100 children ranging in age from 12 months to 18 years.

Dr Littlewood said the expanded clinics would provide a more comprehensive service, and increase the number of children and their families that can be supported overall.

The clinics, offered over an intensive three-month program, focus on both treatment and prevention, and include one-on-one consultations with dietitian and psychologist and a paediatrician in most cases.

“The focus is on long-term behaviour change, dietary modification, increased physical activity and supporting a whole-of-family lifestyle change”, Dr Littlewood said.

“The aim is to provide support, education and motivation for patients and their families in their journey to a healthy weight and lifestyle”.

“Feedback from the families we have helped to date has been overwhelmingly positive so we’re delighted to be able to extend this service to capture many more Queensland families.”

Dr Littlewood said the clinic would also utilise the body composition laboratory at the Children’s Nutrition Research Centre, located in the new Centre for Children’s Health Research, to measure and track patient results.

“For the first time in Queensland, we can measure body composition and assess changes in fat and lean body mass which might not have been detected using standard methods.”

“The benefit of this is that our patients and families can track real results in terms of body composition which is so important in childhood during growth.  Patients can actually see their muscle mass or fat mass changing as they work through the program. This is so motivating for our patients.”

The new service will be evaluated at the end of 2016 to help inform the development of an evidence-based model of care that can be rolled out statewide.

For more information, contact Dr Robyn Littlewood on QCH-Diet@health.qld.gov.au.