Childhood obesity is a growing issue, with around 30% of children being identified as overweight in New Zealand. In the MidCentral DHB, a new multi-disciplinary team is being established to help children and their families live healthier lives.
Preschool children who are identified as obese will be referred to the new team. The team will then look at their situation and identify the best way forward for the family.
Central PHO clinical dietitian, Suzanne Aitken believes it is important not to play the blame game and that there is no single solution to this complex issue.
“This isn’t about telling anyone that they are performing badly, obesity is a challenging, multifactorial issue. We want to support and educate these families to navigate their way around our complex obesogenic environment and make healthier choices.”
Suzanne said: “The multi-disciplinary team will be made up of members from a variety of disciplines bringing together their professional expertise to tackle this complex issue. We are wary of the many different messages that families are given and so will use the team based approach and standardised resources to give clear, consistent messages that will be shared across the district.”
“The team we will be working with the whanau as a whole and will be able to access other community services and organisations to help support all members of the family to make lifestyle changes to improve their health and wellbeing”
Having the discussion with the parents/caregivers of these children is difficult and requires a sensitive, holistic and supportive approach especially when parents are unaware of the problem. To help with this the DHB will be working with general practice teams, B4 School Check nurses and other health providers to further develop skills around how to have those conversations. Health professionals will also be invited to a professional development session to help educate and support the workforce on this issue and the messages that the team aims to deliver.
A collaborative clinical pathway for the new health target is currently under development.
The initiative will help to meet the newly introduced national Ministry of Health target, which requires 95% of children identified as obese during their B4 School Check, to be referred to a health professional for clinical assessment and family based nutrition, activity and lifestyle intervention.
The new team won’t require setting up any other services, but will instead allow the team to connect families with the existing ones more effectively. To help measure the demand on the team, and to ensure everything goes smoothly, it will be rolled-out in a phased approach commencing in the 2016/17 year.
Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945