Key role for GPs in childhood obesity
Family-based interventions by GPs are the most cost-effective way to tackle the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, an NHS evidence review suggests.
One in 10 six-year-olds is now obese and the figure rises to 15 per cent at age 15, according to a report from the Health Development Agency. Evidence indicates the best way to tackle the problem is by involving the whole family an approach particularly well suited to general practice.
'Opportunistic work in con- sultations should be embedded in ordinary care,' said the agency's research director, Dr Mike Kelly. 'Interventions in primary care are very effective in reducing sedentary behaviour and are also cost-effective.'
Dr Ian Campbell, a GP in Nottingham and one of the report's expert reviewers, said: 'To see a kid who is overweight and not step in is to miss a golden opportunity.'
Dr Campbell, chair of the National Obesity Forum, add-ed: 'Even providing basic advice such as cutting down on soft drinks and eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can make a difference, without necessarily requiring a big time input.'
A third of obese adolescents have two risk factors for co-morbid disease, such as hypertension and glucose intolerance, Dr Campbell said. An- other third have one risk factor.
The study shows the most effective interventions place the primary responsibility on parents to improve diet, increase exercise and change a sedentary lifestyle. There is less evidence for advice targeted at the child alone.