GPs fear the battle against obesity has been lost among adults
and attention should be focused on ensuring our children have
a chance at a healthy future, according to exclusive research
conducted by Diabetes Queensland.
Diabetes Queensland CEO Michelle Trute said their in-depth
interviews with GPs across Queensland found the majority spent
almost half their time dealing with obesity-related conditions and
"We found obesity-related conditions are swelling GP waiting
rooms and making it harrder for doctors to deliver care and
for patients to get appointments," Ms Trute said.
"Two thirds of doctors told us they spent almost half their time
treating obesity-related conditions and illnesses including type 2
diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
"In fact, seven out of ten GPs said Queensland's obesity
epidemic impacted their work and their capacity to treat
"GPs branded this 'alarming', with many saying the number of
people presenting with issues relating to obesity had swelled by
more than 25 per cent in less than a decade."
Diabetes Queensland conducted in-depth interviews with GPs in
Brisbane, Cairns and Toowoomba to gauge the impact the obesity
epidemic is having on GP clinics across Queensland.
Dr John Kastrissios, GP and Chairman of the Greater Metro South
Brisbane Medicare Local, encouraged policy makers to heed the
warnings, saying doctors were on the frontline in the war
"The research found doctors felt 'frustrated' because many
patients are not helping themselves and continued to overindulge in
junk food and not exercise regularly," Dr Kastrissios said.
"Up to half of the doctors surveyed found it difficult to talk
to patients about their weight.
"There are a number of reasons for this, including doctors not
wanting to offend patients and, more worryingly, patients not
seeing their weight as a health problem.
"Many people still don't see excess weight as a problem, despite
the fact that we know people in the overweight and obese categories
are at a much higher risk of developing potentially fatal and
debilitating chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart
The research found overwhelming support among GPs for a range of
social policies that could help reduce the number of people
who are overweight and obese.
- banning junk food advertising to children
- implementing workplace physical activity and healthy eating
- banning sugary drinks in locations frequented by children
- offering free or government-sponsored community-based healthy
encompassing exercise and diet
- taxing junk food including energy dense foods and sugary
Other ideas discussed included:
- subsidising allied health support from dietitians,
nutritionists, exercise physiologists
- measuring children's weight at schools
- implementing town planning laws prohibiting fast food outlets
opening near schools
- creating compulsory nutrition classes in schools
- banning sitting for longer than two hours at a time in schools
Ms Trute said it was time for all levels of government and the
community to get serious about tackling the obesity epidemic.
"Enough is enough - we need new solutions and brave actions -
and that means all levels of government need to consider ways we
can combat the obesity epidemic. It is also critical that
people take control of their own health," Ms Trute said.
"Some of the policy responses raised by GPs may not be popular
but they could prove the difference in turning the obesity
"Once upon a time it would have been unthinkable to walk into a
smoke-free pub or nightclub, now we wouldn't expect anything
else. We need to tackle obesity with the same commitment and
vigour to avoid a public health catastrophe."
Diabetes Queensland, The Heart Foundation and Nutrition
Australia Queensland are enouraging Queenslanders to eat healthier,
smaller portions during the festive season. The Queensland
partnership is also supported by the Australian Government's new
obesity prevention initiative, Shape Up Australia.
Media contact: Liam Ferney 0448 130 925
Note: While type 2 diabetes is largely preventable, type 1
diabetes is an autoimmune disease that attacks the pancreas cells
that produce insulin. Insulin regulates the conversion of sugars in
food into energy.