A ‘shared care’ obesity treatment trial, in which hospital-based obesity specialists and local GP’s shared the management and treatment of obese children, has proved ineffective, according to new research by Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
The study, which was published online today in the British Medical Journal, has shown that the shared-care obesity management program, provided to children aged three to 10 years old, did not improve children’s body mass index (BMI) relative to those who received no treatment for their obesity.
The trial was developed as a ‘best of both worlds’ type approach, as it combined easy to access GPs with harder to access specialists. Only a small minority of obese children can access hospital-based weight management clinics, due to location or the overwhelming need for those services (some states only have one specialist weight management clinic).
Obese children who were in the intervention group of the study initially saw a specialist and dietician at a weight management clinic and were given an agreed care plan which included dietary, physical activity and family lifestyle changes. The child then regularly saw their local GP’s for a year to track their progress, update goals, and solve issues as they arose.
Researchers were hopeful this approach would alleviate some of the stress that is currently on specialist weight management services, and would help those children who were unable to access specialist clinics.
“While the trial was feasible, not harmful, and acceptable to providers and families, the study had no beneficial effect on the BMI outcomes of the children in the study, compared to the control group. Unfortunately the search continues for urgently-needed evidence-based obesity interventions,” said lead researcher, Professor Melissa Wake.
“We’re optimistic that childhood obesity can be overcome, just as smoking and traffic deaths have been steadily reduced over the last 30 years. But we can’t pretend any longer that it just takes simple lifestyle advice to families – now is the time to link obesity researchers with creative thinkers and policy planners to tackle every small facet of what builds an obesity epidemic,” said Professor Wake.
Source: Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
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