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One in four primary school children in Ireland are obese ...

2013-02-10 21:58

Temple Street’s W82GO! (childhood obesity treatment) programme for children up to 16 years achieving weight reduction better than seen in international studies

One in four primary school children in Ireland are obese -

At a briefing in Temple Street Children’s University Hospital today, the W82GO! childhood obesity treatment programme team reported that 312 children aged 18 months to 16 years have been referred to the programme over the last five years. All of these children had a body mass index (BMI) greater than 98% percentile on the Irish growth chart.

The team further reported that when these children were referred, 40% of them had risk factors for heart disease (e.g. high cholesterol), 30% had physical co-morbidities including knee pain and breathlessness when walking. 60% reported psychological difficulties (including poor self-esteem and depression) and 11% reported severe bullying. On completion of the W82GO! programme, the mean reduction in BMI SDS was 0.16 after 12 months of treatment when international studies have shown a mean reduction in BMI SDS of 0.14, illustrating the effectiveness of Temple Street’s programme and the potential for these children to sustain the weight loss. (BMI SDS is a measure of obesity that takes child growth into account. Those over 2.0 are classified as clinically obese.)

Approximately 1 in 4 (30,000) primary school children in Ireland today are either overweight or obese. The causes of childhood obesity are complex but likely to be a combination of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle with excessive calorie intake for need. The negative impact of obesity in childhood includes respiratory, cardiovascular, muscuoloskeletal and metabolic effects, poor self-image and poor quality of life. In addition, children who are obese are more likely to have disease like heart disease and type 2 diabetes in adulthood.

“All children who attend an Outpatient Clinic in Temple Street for any reason have their growth measured routinely which allows their BMI to be calculated and plotted on a child’s BMI centile chart. If the BMI is greater than the 91st percentile, the child is deemed overweight or if greater than the 98th percentile, the child is deemed obese and referred to the W82GO! service for review. We also consider referrals through GPs and other healthcare professionals in the community and the hospital” said Dr Sinead Murphy, Consultant Paediatrician and Clinical Lead, W82GO! Programme, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital.

W82GO is a 12-month family-based obesity treatment programme for children and teenagers which provides families with health, nutrition, self-esteem, family communication and activity guidance along with support in a safe environment so that families can achieve the healthiest lifestyle for them. The treatment follows best practice and is truly multidisciplinary. Before starting the programme, the child is reviewed by a paediatrician, paediatric dietician, paediatric physiotherapist and paediatric psychologist. The child completes an exercise test to measure fitness and has baseline blood tests which assess their metabolic health and identifies how at risk they are for obesity-related conditions. Following the initial appointment, families are then invited onto the programme.

“The W82GO programme at Temple Street is here to help families who may feel that they have no-where to go. Parents often report that they just can’t find the help they need. We want our children to have the best nutrition possible, to get enough sleep and to get their recommended 60 minutes of fun activity every day. By doing this they feel more confident and happy. We introduce the child and parent to the concept of having a healthly lifestyle and how to make small goals towards becoming healthier. The programme includes fun sessions to improve the child’s movement skills and boost his/her confidence in performing physical activity. In addition the weekly interactive educational sessions help the family to learn about nutrition and shopping skills. We encourage parents to make positive changes in the family’s lifestyle and provide a balance between nurturing and limit setting. Children become more confident and learn how important nutrition, sleep, activity and play are in their lives and how by making small changes so they can feel happier and healthier” said Grace O’Malley, Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital.

“International studies have shown reduction in BMI SDS of 0.14 at 12 months of treatment and with W82GO!, children are achieving a mean reduction of BMI SDS of 0.16. We know the programme works in reducing obesity but we are committed to making it better. For example we need to look at how the programme affects the child’s fitness or cholesterol levels. As Temple Street is the only place in Ireland for children who are obese to receive this type of holistic care, we are keen to secure funding to meet the service demand. In trying to improve access to the programme, we are testing alternative methods of delivering our treatment. Thanks to funding from the HRB (Health Research Board), Temple Street’s Children’s Fund for Health and The National Childrens Research Centre, this year, we will test the effect of our new Smart-phone application on obesity in teenagers’ concluded Grace O’Malley.

Click here to view W8toGO Final Leaflet

Click here to view W8toGO Smartphone Study

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