MEDIA RELEASES

Obesity education focus for Northland Medical Practitioners as health costs increase

With almost one in three adults aged 15 and over obese in New Zealand, an Obesity Conference, incorporating primary health care doctor and nurse practitioners, public and private hospital surgical specialists, and allied health professionals, was held today in Whangarei.

The Obesity Conference coincides with Diabetes Awareness Week and highlighted the close link between Obesity and Diabetes.  An active lifestyle, dietary advice, and psychological interventions were addressed as part of a multi-disciplinary approach to obesity and what the World Health Organisations terms ‘an epidemic’.

Guest speaker Bariatric and Upper Gastrointestinal surgeon Dr Nicholas Evennett noted that New Zealand childhood obesity rates are high, but that they increase alarmingly in the adult population.


“Obesity is a huge global problem with 2.1 billion people overweight or obese.  There is a particular problem in New Zealand and we have now got overweight and obesity rates in excess of Australia and second only to the US, with 71.4 per cent of the male population and 60 per cent of the female population having BMI greater than 25.”

The body mass index (BMI) is a measure of relative weight, based on an individual's mass and height.

Northland DHB has committed to the Fit For Life work programmes relating to healthy lifestyles to address obesity rates in Northland and the impact it has on diabetes and cardiovascular disease, in particular for Maori.

There are marked ethnic inequities in obesity between Maori and non-Maori, both in Northland and nationally. More than half of Northland Maori have challenges with maintaining an acceptable BMI measure as stated in the 2011 Health Survey.

The up-skilling of clinicians in the assessment, medical and surgical treatments of obesity is a responsibility that is being addressed via collaboration between Northland and Waitemata DHB’s.

Conference convenor Dr Robert Loan stated that PHO and general practice colleagues are at the forefront of this epidemic, “so it is important they have the resources to support their patients, and that a pathway is clearly established to refer patients onto hospital care”.

“The sharing of expertise within the DHB’s serves to provide better outcomes for patients, but patient education remains key to stemming the rising health costs associated with obesity, improving quality of life and health outcomes.” 


‘Walking the talk’ Hokianga Health GP Dr Charles Badger with Sport Northland Green Prescription team leader Kerrin Taylor.


Waitemata District Health Board Bariatric and Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery fellow Dr Nicolas Evennett with University of Auckland research fellow Dr Melanie Lauti. Dr Lauti is a former senior surgical registrar at Northland DHB and is specialising in doing a PHD in Bariatric.





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