The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) continually release position statements on topics such as clinical/practice management and health and environmental systems. These reflect the RACGps core values and act as an information base for GPs in Australia.
In February 2019 the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) released a Position Statement on Obesity Prevention and Management.
“The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) recognises that obesity is one of the most important health issues facing Australia and affects the health, wellbeing and productivity of many Australians.
Obesity is linked directly and indirectly to many chronic conditions and also causes significant morbidity.
General practice has a central role to play in the prevention and management of obesity. This role needs to be supported through improved funding of effective and evidence-based services and therapies. Funding for research into obesity prevention and management is also much needed.”
A summary of the statement
The RACGPs position statement highlights the significant role that GPs play in the prevention and management of obesity. 25% of Australia adults are living with obesity, yet it is estimated that <1% of GP consultations centre around the discussion of obesity. The RACGP does also recognise the need for more education of registrars & GPs in prevention, detection and management of obesity, as well as the need for more awareness of stigmatisation and inequity.
Not only that but is calling for the Australian Government support for evidence-based services and treatments, that currently have little or no Government funding. Uptake of bariatric surgery by adults that qualify based on BMI alone is unacceptably low. This indicates barriers to access and inequities as evidenced by <12% of these surgeries being performed in the public health system.
The statement also calls for greater investment into research in the area.
But why is this important?
General practice has always been the foundation of management of chronic diseases in Australia. By recognising that GPs need to be better supported in their role in assisting patients with obesity, we are moving towards creating a solution in the healthcare sector.
Unfortunately, the world we live in today does not support people to make healthy decisions when it comes to nutrition and physical activity. So although the RACGPs is recognising the need for changes in their own sector and the healthcare sector, the prevention of obesity requires much more, a whole-systems approach including public health safeguards, education, nutrition and town-planning. But it’s a step in the right direction nonetheless.