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News Release

Doctors Report Capacity to Manage Childhood Obesity Limited

07 September 2009 Wiley

A new study has revealed GPs and pediatricians believe their capacity to effectively identify and manage childhood obesity is limited, due to barriers such as time constraints. 65 per cent of the doctors also perceived a shortfall in public sector dietitians to assist them in managing overweight and obese children, according to the study in Nutrition & Dietetics, published by Wiley-Blackwell.

Forty GPs and three pediatricians from New South Wales were interviewed about their capacity, knowledge, skill and confidence in managing overweight and obese children.

The doctors felt the health system needed to better support them in identifying and managing obesity in children - and 62 per cent were unaware of local services provided by dietitians.

'We need to be educating and encouraging doctors to refer overweight and obese children to nutrition experts as early as possible,' said co-author Julie McFarlane, an Accredited Practising Dietitian, from the Wyong Hospital.

Claire Hewat, CEO of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), said, "Current nutrition services provided by the local public sector are insufficient. DAA would like to see improved access to Accredited Practising Dietitians in the community setting to help manage overweight and obesity in children and adolescents."

"These kids have an increased risk of becoming obese adults. Carrying excess weight is linked with a greater risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes - conditions that are already straining our health system and costing the Government big dollars."

Ms. Hewat said many children are eating too much saturated fat, salt and sugar, and not enough fruit and vegetables. She also said many weren't getting the recommended hour or more of moderate to vigorous exercise each day.

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