Aim The aim of this study was to look at the current practice of healthcare professionals providing care to children who are overweight or obese, resources available to them and to identify any scopes and barriers faced during management.
Methods A questionnaire was sent out to health professionals involved in providing care to children who are overweight or obese. This included general practitioners (GPs) and their practice nurses and to paediatricians working within a large Trust in the North-West of England. The questionnaire was approved by the Trust's Research and Ethics Department and was mostly sent out by post with some questionnaires being handed out at meetings. All participants were asked to return the questionnaire anonymously.
Results 97 professionals replied (40.4% return) with an equal representation from both primary and secondary care professionals. The responses indicated that 70% of Senior Paediatricians and GPs were aware of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence obesity guideline. Height and weight was routinely measured by 96% of paediatricians verses only 42.5% of primary care workers and body mass index calculated by only 65% and 27%, respectively. Most commonly, obesity management involved following-up a child within the practitioner's own setting (64%) with low rates of referral to key professionals (only 15% and 3% referred to a dieticians and psychologists respectively). 14% of respondents were not aware of local services to help children with obesity, only 32% had access to a dietician and 5% to psychology services and only 10% had local exercise programme availability. In managing childhood obesity dissatisfaction levels were high especially with respect to training received, ability to engage and counsel families and with resource availability including dietician, exercise programmes and specialist clinics.
Conclusion This survey highlights the need to improve training, develop guidelines and integrated care pathways and to provide essential multidisciplinary resources to help tackle the increasing global problem of childhood obesity, this being a modifiable high risk factor to the main chronic health problems such as hypertension and diabetes.