GPs air frustration over “a losing battle” with obesity

Exclusive Diabetes Queensland research reveals many of Queensland's GPs believe the obesity epidemic is being lost, with calls for attention to be focused on ensuring our children have a chance at a healthy future. Two thirds of Queensland doctors surveyed by Diabetes Queensland say they are spending almost half their time treating obesity-related conditions and illnesses including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Of concern, 100 per cent of GPs recently surveyed in Brisbane, Cairns and Toowoomba agreed there had been a marked increase in patients presenting with issues related to obesity over the past 10 to 15 years – estimating this to equate to a 25 per cent hike, with half of all cases involving children. As a result, seven out of 10 GPs said the obesity epidemic impacted on their work and capacity to treat other patients. Higher prevalence of obesity was also reported in families with a history of weight issues as well as people living in low-socio economic areas – echoing findings from the landmark Australian Diabetes Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab) that tracked 11,000 Australians over 12 years (see last issue of Diabetes Network ). Similar to calls for “radical action” arising from the AusDiab study, Queensland GPs supported a range of social policies that could help reduce the number of people who are overweight or obese. These included: – banning junk food advertising to children; – implementing workplace physical activity and healthy eating standards; – banning sugary drinks in locations

frequented by children; – offering free or government- sponsored community-based healthy living programs encompassing exercise and diet; and – taxing junk food, including energy dense foods and sugary drinks. Other issues discussed included: – subsidising allied health support from dietitians, nutritionists, exercise physiologists and counsellors; – implementing town planning laws prohibiting fast food outlets opening near schools; – creating compulsory nutrition classes in schools; and – banning sitting for longer than two hours at a time in schools and workplaces. Diabetes Queensland CEO Michelle Trute said it was time for all levels of government and the community to get serious about tackling the obesity epidemic. "Once upon a time it would have been unthinkable to walk into a smoke-free pub or nightclub, now we wouldn't expect anything else,” Ms Trute said. “We need to tackle obesity with the same commitment and vigour to avoid a public health catastrophe." Dr John Kastrissios, GP and Chairman of the Greater Metro South Brisbane Medicare Local, seconded the call for policy makers to heed warnings arising from Diabetes Queensland’s research, stressing that doctors were on the frontline in the war against obesity. "Up to half of the doctors surveyed found it difficult to talk to patients about their weight. There are a number of reasons for this, including doctors not wanting to offend patients and, more worryingly, patients not seeing their weight as a health problem,” Dr Kastrissios said. "Many people still don't see excess weight as a problem, despite the

fact that we know people in the overweight and obese categories are at a much higher risk of developing potentially fatal and debilitating chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease." Diabetes Queensland, The Heart Foundation and Nutrition Australia Queensland are encouraging Queenslanders to eat healthier, smaller portions during the festive season. The Queensland partnership is also supported by the Australian Government's new obesity prevention initiative, Shape Up Australia. n Diabetes Queensland values the services that health professionals provide to people with diabetes. Our organisation aims to support you via access to up-to-date diabetes information services and programs, as listed under the heading “Health Professionals” on our website ( www.diabetesqld.org.au ). n Health professionals can also call Diabetes Queensland’s Infoline on 1300 136 588.


Diabetes Network – Summer 2013/14

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