Last updated December 18, 2018 at 2:22 pm
A new program by ANU provides a toolbox for GPs to help patients with obesity.
A new program to help Australian GPs treat patients with obesity has been unveiled by the Australian National University.
The Change Program, developed at the ANU Medical School, is based around implementing long-term lifestyle changes.
Taking five years to develop, the program incorporates psychology techniques and collaborative goal setting.
Consisting of a how-to workbook for GP’s and patients, it covers practical steps on nutrition, exercise, goal setting, wellbeing and meal plans.
It includes setting realistic fun exercise goals, a regular pantry stocktake, relapse trouble shooting and a nutrition diary.
“This is the first program of its kind in Australia that GPs can use with patients,” says Liz Sturgiss from the ANU College of Health and Medicine, who was involved in creating the program.
“It is not a fad diet, it is about serious lifestyle change and things you can do on an ongoing basis.”
While there are guidelines for weight loss created by the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC), the new program gives doctors and patients a roadmap for putting them into action.
“The NHMRC have fantastic guidelines for GPs that describe what to do but this program shows doctors and patients how to do it,” says Sturgiss.
“GPs know the whole picture of a patient and their family and can look at obesity holistically.
“For patients that want the option of working with their GP, this program provides the resources to do it.
Sturgiss adds that the program was created especially for GPs, given their central role in patient’s ongoing healthcare. For most people, their GP is their first point of contact about health related issues, with 85% of Australians seeing a GP at least once in the previous year.
“Now doctors and patients will be able to work together towards sustainable changes to help patients reduce weight and improve their health generally.”
The program was trialled with GPs in the Canberra area, and saw positive ongoing results.
“Through the project we helped a number of patients lose between five to eight kilos, which is a significant amount of weight and we’ve continued to use the skills we’ve learned to support our patients to lose weight,” says Melian Deery, a Canberra GP involved in the initial trials.
“GPs are very accessible and well placed to help patients with obesity and this program is a way for us to do that well.”