Overweight and obesity in children

Prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity in children

More than one in four (or 217,000) Queensland children are living with overweight or obesity*. Management of this significant health problem is a complex and sensitive issue that requires an integrated approach targeting education, prevention and treatment.

This project, which has also received funding from the Allied Health Professions Office of Queensland, aims to build on an existing evidence-based framework and expand the services available for health professionals and the community for the prevention and treatment of paediatric overweight and obesity, alongside education on how to implement the framework to provide effective care. This is the first of its kind, bringing together a range of skillsets and services throughout the system to respond collectively to this problem. Systems integration has supported the success of this project.

Statewide primary care clinician capacity and capability has been increased to provide specialist-level prevention, treatment and management services for children that are living with overweight or obesity. A governance subgroup of the Paediatric Obesity Working Group has been established with primary care and primary health networks.

Collaboration has been built across the care continuum to reduce statewide clinical variation and improve care consistency and equity for children and families experiencing overweight and obesity in Queensland.

Key outcomes to date

  • A co-designed referral pathway has been developed to ensure referrals for children living with overweight and obesity are appropriately actioned in a standardised, evidence-based manner. This referral pathway has been endorsed and adapted to the Health Pathways program and localised by a number of Primary Health Networks (connecting through levels of system management).

  • The Paediatric Obesity Working Group has been converted to the Paediatric Obesity Health Transformers Committee and is now hosted by Health and Wellbeing Queensland. The new committee is cross-sectorial with representatives from health, government, academia, education, and sport and recreation. The new governance model allows for a range of new partners across Queensland Government and local government to work together.

  • Health professionals participating in the education aspect of this project have seen significant and meaningful changes in their knowledge, attitudes, confidence and practising behaviours, which is likely to flow on to their clinical practice.

  • Responses to surveys and focus groups conducted as part of the prevention aspect indicated that the online prevention program is supported by end-users (parents/guardians and health professionals).

  • Participation in the education series and the Paediatric Obesity Working Group was open to and included clinicians from across Queensland. Data was gathered from a variety of parents/guardians and health professionals across the greater Brisbane area. The expansion of the paediatric weight management clinics occurred with a new service delivered in Ipswich as part of West Moreton Health.

  • A new collaboration between The University of Queensland and Health and Wellbeing Queensland will enable the prevention aspect of this research to be continued, to further develop and co-design the online prevention program.  

Project investigators

Project leaders engage with and draw on the expertise of partners within universities, research institutes, and hospital and health services around Queensland.

  • Adjunct Professor Robyn Littlewood, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland (Lead), CEO, Health and Wellbeing Queensland

  • Dr Jacqueline Walker, Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, The University of Queensland, Honorary Research Fellow, Health and Wellbeing Queensland

  • Dr Clare Dix, Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, The University of Queensland

* https://www.growinggoodhabits.health.qld.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/PDF/health-professionals/An-integrated-approach-for-tackling-childhood-overweight-and-obesity-in-Queensland-overview.pdf

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