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GPs 'struggle' with obesity in children

1st September 2009

Researchers at the University of Bristol have said GPs and nurses are not likely to make a difference in the fight against obesity in children.

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NHS staff spoke to a team from the university and said that lack of time, treatment types and the unwillingness of parents made it difficult for them to tackle the issue.

According to the latest figures, 27% of children in the UK weigh too much.

The research, which was published in the British Journal of General Practice, said that plans had been made to get staff to spot and help children with weight problems.

These plans included Department of Health and National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines from 2006.

However interviews with primary care staff showed that doctors and nurses did not think they were realistic.

Staff said they did not often see children of the appropriate age at their surgeries and, if they did, other health problems were more important than weight loss.

If the issue of a child's weight was brought up by staff, few available treatment types meant there was a limited amount they could do.

Study leader Dr Katrina Turner said the 30 primary care staff who participated had not viewed the 2006 guidelines and it was unlikely they would have had an effect.

"It would appear that primary care can only play a limited role. We need to look at the availability of healthy food, safe places to play, how often children have physical exercise in the curriculum."

A Department of Heath spokesman said: "There is no one group that can solve it on its own and we do not expect primary care professionals will treat and support all overweight and obese children."

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