Pediatricians do not feel overly confident about being able to make a difference to obese children’s weight, and many also lack confidence in managing children’s health problems related to obesity, such as hypertension, insulin resistance and fatty liver disease.
These findings are from a recent Australian study, which also found that most of the paediatricians surveyed said they had not been trained in managing obesity-related health problems in children.
The study, published in Archives of Diseases in Childhood, links patient-level data from a national prospective audit of outpatient practice with an online survey of paediatricians’ self-perceived competence and training in managing obesity.
One of the interesting questions raised by the authors is whether the most useful response to such findings is to develop better clinical training and support tools, or to develop shared care models linking secondary and tertiary practitioners.
Or, they suggest, another option “is to argue that public health measures, rather than physician-directed management, may be the best long-term investment to address the problem of paediatric obesity itself”.
They say: “Under this scenario, paediatrician training and research would focus on co-morbidities that could benefit from skilled medical management (eg insulin resistance, obesity-related hypertension), rather than concerted efforts to boost paediatricians’ role in weight management and lifestyle guidance.”