Overweight & Obesity
The Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity (ASSO) and the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care held a joint symposium to discuss strategies for reducing the incidence of obesity. The result of the symposium was the report: Acting on Australia’s Weight. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) had recognised that overweight and obesity poses a major public health problem in Australia, and had therefore developed this strategic plan, published in 1997.
The aim of the strategic plan is to prevent further weight gain and overweight and obesity, as well as ultimately reducing the proportion of the Australian adult population that is overweight or obese, and also ensuring the healthy growth of children.
The report reviews the impact of obesity in Australia and attempts to outline possible intervention strategies. The report and the strategic recommendations it contains are principally orientated towards public health prevention. Overall, the plan takes a population-based approach that focuses on changing the macro-environment in order to assist people in undertaking physical activity and making healthier food choices.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) – http://www.health.gov.au/nhmrc
National Health and Medical Research Council. Acting on Australia’s Weight: A strategic plan for the prevention of overweight and obesity. Canberra: AGPS, 1997.
Healthy Weight Australia: A National Obesity Strategy, was prepared by the Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity (ASSO) in 1995. The overall goal or aim of the strategy is to increase the proportion of the Australian population who maintain a healthy weight throughout their lives.
This national strategic plan focuses on maintaining a healthy weight throughout life. Although nearly all those whose weight falls outside the healthy weight range are considered overweight or obese, this strategy also acknowledges that for some, underweight may be a serious problem.
The Healthy Weight Australia strategy comprises four main parts. The first two parts focus on understanding the problem of overweight and obesity in Australia; the other two parts focus on addressing the problem.
Healthy Weight Australia: A National Obesity Strategy. Prepared by the Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity (ASSO), 1995
Sustained action to address the increasing problem of overweight and obesity is where the greatest long-term health, social and economic gains can occur. Healthy Weight 2008 - Australia's Future: The National Action Agenda for Children and Young People and their Families presents a "national strategic framework for action to address the challenges of overweight and obesity in children and young people and their families". It recommends actions across a range of settings such as child care, schools, primary care, maternal and infant health care, neighbourhoods, workplaces, food supply, family and community services, media and marketing.
The goals of Healthy Weight 2008 are:
- Achieve healthier weight in children and young people;
- Increase the proportion of children and young people participating in and maintaining healthy eating and adequate physical activity;
- Strengthen the knowledge, skills, responsibility and resources of all people and communities to achieve optimal weight;
- Address social and environmental determinants of poor nutrition and physical inactivity;
- Focus action on giving children, young people and families the best possible chance of maintaining a healthy weight.
The National Obesity Taskforce put its report and national action agenda for children, young people and their families to Australian Health Ministers in November 2003, who asked the Taskforce to lead and coordinate the implementation of Healthy Weight 2008.
Download the file here:
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in conjunction with the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, has developed clinical practice guidelines for doctors and other health professionals on the management of overweight and obesity in adults, children and adolescents.
The Guidelines provide access to evidence-based information and recommendations on weight management, as well as comprehensive advice that will help doctors identify the best and safest way for their patients to maintain a healthier body weight, and ensure that consistent information is given. The Guidelines will also be useful to other health professionals.
The Guidelines emphasise the importance of weight management strategies targeted at children and adolescents, as treatment of overweight and obesity in the younger age groups is expected to become increasingly common as greater numbers of children and adolescents fall into these (overweight and obesity) categories.
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing or the NHMRC - http://www.obesityguidelines.gov.au/
The draft Clinical Practice Guidelines for Weight Control and Obesity Management have been developed by the NHMRC. These are the first guidelines for weight control and obesity management ever issued in Australia, providing detailed evidence-based guidance for doctors and health professionals regarding the assessment and management of overweight and obesity.
The guidelines highlight important health concerns associated with overweight and obesity and, through the provision of information to doctors for at-risk groups, aim to improve the health of people with obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. These guidelines have also been developed partly in response to the need for consistent information, as there is much misleading and confusing information available in both public and scientific literature.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) -http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/
Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults
The Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity, was developed co-operatively by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and released in 1998. The NHLBI Expert Panel used an evidence-based methodology to develop key recommendations for assessing and treating overweight and obese patients.
These clinical guidelines are targeted at physicians, presenting a new approach for the assessment of overweight and obesity, as well as the implementation of principles corresponding to safe and effective weight loss. The guidelines include a 10-step plan and a quick reference tool to help physicians assess, classify, manage and treat overweight and obesity.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) - http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/
This report, published in 1998 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), supports selective prevention of obesity in population subgroups with an above average risk of developing obesity, and targeted prevention directed at high-risk (non-obese) individuals with existing weight problems.
This report reviews current information on obesity, and records the conclusions and recommendations of a major WHO consultation, which aimed to address the alarming global epidemic of obesity, assess the magnitude of associated public health problems, and map out strategies for prevention and control. The report also looks at the causes and costs of obesity, possible interventions at both a population and individual level, and presents a coherent system for assessing and classifying overweight and obesity.
Chapters review data on the effectiveness of available strategies, establish basic principles for a comprehensive strategy for preventing and managing obesity, define priority areas for interventions, and evaluate currently available treatments for individual patients.
International Obesity TaskForce (IOTF) – http://www.iotf.org/publications/
World Health Organisation. Obesity: Preventing and Managing the Global Epidemic: Report of the WHO Consultation of Obesity. Geneva: World Health Organisation, 1997.
The British Medical Association's (BMA) Preventing Childhood Obesity report highlights the aspects of childhood nutrition and exercise, draws attention to the role of the clinician, and provides links to sources of further information. It also makes recommendations for tackling the obesity epidemic in the United Kingdom, specifically regarding the role of government, food industry and schools.
Not intended as comprehensive text, this report serves as a guide for general practitioners and other health professionals on aspects of childhood obesity.
British Medical Association - http://www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/content/ChildhoodObesity
The report, Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, has been released by the US National Academy of Sciences in September 2004, outlining recommendations for combating the rapid rise in childhood obesity.
A committee of experts in child health, obesity, nutrition, physical activity and public health were appointed to draw up a prevention-orientated action plan to lower the numbers of obese US children. The report aims to describe the action plan, consisting of explicit recommendations for confronting the obesity epidemic, methods for prevention, and suggested research opportunities. The report concludes that a multi-pronged attack is needed which will include efforts from schools, families, communities, industry, media and government. It also explains the actions needed to initiate, support and sustain the societal and lifestyle changes that can reverse the obesity trend among children and youth.
In 2003, the National Heart Foundation of Australia undertook a review and mapping project to inform the organisation's work in the area of overweight and obesity. The three tasks involved were:
- A review and summary of the literature on the relationship between overweight and obesity and CVD.
- A review of intervention studies that address the overweight and obesity issue.
- A mapping of activities and interventions in Australia that address overweight and obesity.
The findings from these tasks are available in the form of four reports / documents:
1. Summary of outcomes (provides an overview of the findings as generated by the three tasks undertaken).
2. The relationship between overweight, obesity and cardiovascular disease. A literature review prepared for the National Heart Foundation of Australia. This report indicates that there is strong and consistent evidence linking excess weight and heart disease. This association is not confined to just heart disease, but also to its corresponding risk factors.
3. Detailed review of intervention studies: How do we best address the issues of overweight, obesity and cardiovscular disease?
4. Current activity in Australia to address overweight, obesity and cardiovascular disease - an overview.
The findings from these reports are particularly important because of the growing awareness of the national obesity epidemic. The Heart Foundation aims to use these findings to develop an Action Plan to address overweight and obesity, which will be implemented from 2005 to 2007.
National Heart Foundation of Australia -
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