Brisbane South GPs encouraged to focus on healthier weight and wellbeing for kids

General practices will be given more support to broach the topic of childhood obesity with patients and families and to prescribe prevention pathways like walking groups and coaching programs, as part of an innovative project in Brisbane’s south.

Health and Wellbeing Queensland and Brisbane South PHN are partnering to deliver the initiative, which will see five general practices based in and around Logan supported to focus on childhood obesity prevention and management activities.

Health and Wellbeing Queensland Chief Executive Dr Robyn Littlewood said one in four Queensland children are living with overweight or obesity and GPs were often uniquely placed to identify and raise the issue with families early.

“Obesity has many causes and drivers which makes it particularly complex to tackle and it can also be a sensitive topic to raise with families,” Dr Littlewood said.

“Having the ability to define obesity and appropriately raise the topic with families is one of the hardest things a doctor has to do. In fact, research shows many doctors avoid the subject. This program will support doctors to feel empowered to do this correctly.”

The Practice Incentive Program for Quality Improvement supports GPs across Australia to improve patient care in approved topic areas of their choosing. The shared goal of Health and Wellbeing Queensland and Brisbane South PHN is to see five general practices based in Brisbane’s south focus on childhood obesity prevention as their chosen area of Quality Improvement.

Participating general practice teams will be supported through a structured quality improvement program that includes webinars and coaching in addition to digital health and health literacy tools.

The project will include an element of social prescribing that extends beyond medical treatment and links patients back to programs and activities in their own communities.

“The complexity of obesity means our best chance of addressing it is with a multi-strategy approach to wellbeing. There are some fantastic prevention pathways available, and GPs can and do play a vital role in helping to link families with the very best options for their needs,” Dr Littlewood said.

Brisbane South PHN Chief Executive Officer, Mr Mike Bosel said: “Brisbane South PHN is committed to working with the primary care sector to deliver best practice, person-centred care. We work very closely with local general practices, who are tireless in their pursuit of delivering improved quality of care and health outcomes to our communities. This year over 90% of the accredited general practices in our region have formally signed onto the Practice Incentive Program for Quality Improvement.”

“Our region is home to over 246,450 children and young people under 18 years old. Through this partnership with Health and Wellbeing Queensland we are equipping our local primary health system to support these children to live more healthy and active lives.”

Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of premature death and disability in adulthood. Addressing it early can have a lasting and significant impact on the health of children and families.

A Paediatric Obesity Management and Prevention Quality Improvement Toolkit will be developed to help general practices participating in the project to systematically adopt prevention initiatives into their everyday practice.

The project will initially run for 12 months and could potentially be scaled up across Primary Health Networks statewide. General practices participating in the project will be eligible for financial incentives through Medicare.