Aim The purpose of our survey is to evaluate the current practices among the health professionals providing care to overweight or obese children. The survey also assessed the availability of resources and the limitations faced by the health professionals in managing childhood obesity.
Methodology A questionnaire was sent to 300 health professionals providing care to children with obesity or overweight in primary care and hospital setting. They included general practitioners, paediatricians, junior doctors training in paediatrics, school nurses, practice nurses and health visitors working in North-West England. The survey was approved by the local research and ethics committee.
Results 139 health professionals responded. Majority of obese children were managed locally by the health professionals with very few being referred to allied professionals for further care. 33% of the respondents indicated that body mass index was not calculated even when the child was obviously obese. 15% of the professionals did not measure the height and weight of the obese children. 31% of professionals were not aware of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for childhood obesity and 88% did not have a local guideline for managing childhood obesity. Using Likert's five-point satisfaction score, the health professionals expressed a high degree of dissatisfaction for the availability of training and resources including dietary services, exercise programmes, specialist clinics and ability to engage and counsel the child and the family.
Conclusion In spite of extensive government campaign only one in three health professionals is aware of the NICE guidelines for managing the childhood obesity. Our survey high lights the need to improve the basic training available for health professionals managing childhood obesity. Improvement is also required in the availability of basic resources for managing childhood obesity. There is an urgent need to develop integrated care pathways involving the essential multidisciplinary teams to manage this potentially modifiable condition.
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