A childhood obesity treatment programme at Temple Street Children’s Hospital has seen 312 children aged between 18 months and the age of 16, over the past five years. All of these children had a body mass index (BMI) greater than 98pc on the Irish growth chart. A briefing today on the programme – called W82GO – heard that when these children were referred, 40pc had risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol.
Meanwhile, psychological difficulties experienced by 60pc of the children included poor self-esteem and depression. Dr Sinead Murphy, a consultant pediatrician and the clinical lead on the programme said: “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.”
Any child who is deemed obese is referred to the hospital’s programme. They also consider referrals from GPs, and other healthcare professionals. W82GO is a 12-month family based obesity treatment programme for children and teenagers which provides families with health, nutrition, self esteem, family communications and activity guidance, along with support in a safe environment.
The successful programme has achieved weight reductions which are even higher than that seen in international studies. Grace O’Malley, a senior paediatric physiotherapist with the hospital said: “The programme is here to help families who may feel they have nowhere 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 healthy 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 or her confidence in performing physical activity. In addition, the weekly interactive educational sessions help the family to learn about nutrition and shopping skills.”
She said that 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 Health Research Board, Temple Street’s Children’s Fund for Health and The National Children’s Research Centre, this year, we will test the effect of our new smart-phone application on obesity in teenagers,” said Grace.
Around one in four, or 30,000 primary school children in Ireland today are either overweight or obese.
– Fiona Dillon, Independent.ie