Queensland general practitioners are set to play a more direct role in their patient’s weight management with the launch of a new campaign Doctor on Your Side coinciding with Healthy Weight Week (17 – 23 Feb).
The campaign aims to trigger open and honest discussions about weight management between doctors and their patients and will include weighing their patients more regularly at consultations.
The launch of the campaign comes at a time when Queensland obesity rates are at an all time high. According to a recent Government report[i] an estimated 65% of the Queensland population is either overweight or obese, one of the highest rates in Australia. These rates increase in rural/regional and lower socioeconomic status areas of Queensland, Townsville-Mackay topping the table with an estimated overweight or obese rate of 75%.
High-profile GP and campaign ambassador Dr Ginni Mansberg says it is time for doctors to play a more active role in reducing the prevalence of obesity.
“We all know that GPs are very time poor and time with patients is limited. But something as simple as weighing your patients at every consultation can help set very important benchmarks for weight management. This can also help trigger open discussions with patients about weight management,” said Dr Mansberg.
“We want to help our patients lead better, healthier lives. If weight loss is needed then GPs are in the best position to suggest an effective solution based on the evidence – whether it is dietary guidance, prescribing clinically proven options or exploring other interventions.”
Brisbane-based GP Dr Janet Fairweather has helped many of her patients lose weight by overcoming the fear of having the ‘awkward’ weight discussion.
“From my experience, patients sometimes have a fear that we will criticise them about their excess weight if the topic is brought up in a consultation. The most successful cases of weight loss occur when the patient sees their doctor as their ‘weight loss partner’ rather than just the family doctor,” said Dr Fairweather. “We are in the best position to offer weight loss advice because we are aware of their medical history and can recommend the best approaches based on their individual lifestyle,” she added.
Many GPs in Queensland have joined the national GP Weight Loss Alliance to show their commitment to improving the management of obesity.
Australians who want to lose weight can visit www.doctoronyourside.com.au to access tools to help initiate the first discussion about weight loss with their doctor.
[i] National Health Performance Authority. In Focus: Overweight and obese rates across Australia, 2011-12. October 2013.