‘Blind eye’ over obese children

Published: Tuesday 28th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Clinicians are turning a “blind eye” to child patients who are overweight or obese, researchers have claimed.

A small-scale study of children visiting an outpatients department over a 10-week period looked at whether doctors and nurses offered any intervention to those who were overweight or obese, such as advice, further investigation or further specialist support.

While one in four children were overweight or obese, few were offered any such intervention – while in contrast, all underweight children were investigated and given follow-up support.

The study found that of the 11% of children who were obese, only a third (34%) were offered anything like this – while just 2% of youngsters who were overweight were offered any, despite 14% of them seen being so.

Paediatrician Dr Thomas Waterfield, who co-led the study of more than 400 children at Luton & Dunstable Hospital, said clinicians cited lack of time as a major reason for not bringing the issue up with their patients, while fear of damaging their relationships with them was also a factor.

He said a “cultural shift” was needed in addressing children being overweight and also suggested GPs needed to bring the topic up with young patients.

“If one in four children reaching outpatients’ are obese or overweight and it’s not being reached before they reach the clinic, that would suggest to me that it’s not being recognised in primary care,” he said.

He added that the hospital is currently training an obesity nurse specialist to support clinicians during outpatient clinics and to offer additional training and educational support with a view to changing clinician attitudes towards obesity.

The emerging research is due to be presented at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s (RCPCH) annual conference this week.

Published: Tuesday 28th April 2015 by The News Editor

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