Better Health, Together: WA Healthy Weight Action PlanOn March 6, 2020 by Raul Dinwiddie
LEARNE: Welcome to Better Health, Together and you’ll see that I have here two of our esteemed partners shall I say, in the Minister for Health, Roger Cook and Pip Brennan, the CEO of the Health Consumers’ Council. And we’re here to have a conversation about obesity, which many of you would know is a wicked problem I would say. The conversation that we’re building on today is really the next steps from a summit that we collaboratively held here in WA which fed into a Healthy Weight Action Plan. So a great initiative, very collaborative and will start to roll out. However, first question – what’s the impact obesity is having on our community and on our health system? ROGER: Well I guess the impact on our community generally is profound. 67% of adults, 25% of kids are either overweight or obese. This is a significant problem for our community. The impact that this has on our health system is of course, we’ve got a greater prevalence of chronic disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes and all these things are compounded in the sense of demands on our health system so it’s a wicked problem and it’s a problem which runs the full length and breadth of health services in Western Australia. PIP: And I guess what was great about this project from the Health Consumers’ Council’s perspective was we got a chance to speak to people in the community and I think to really listen to what the impact for them is of overweight and obesity, and the great toll it can have on people, and also the difficulty people have had in trying to find the right kind of services. Often they are not always things that exist or they’ve been to things that hasn’t really delivered what they need. And they can feel quite helpless. LEARNE: And it’s quite interesting the research that’s emerging, so families that cook dinner, cook dinner from scratch at home may be less likely to be overweight or obese so we know that some of that is quite fundamental. PIP: So much about this is social, it’s really about our social networks and how we’re socially supported, what we do, what our loved ones do so there’s a whole area of complexity and opportunity in that. LEARNE: So what do you think some of the strategies could be going forward? ROGER: Well I guess there’s a whole range of strategies and we can look to health services and obviously having a strong relationship with your GP and being able to work through all the lifestyle issues and health related issues with your GP is absolutely crucial. It’s also important of course, to make sure you’ve got the right acute services where people do find they develop acute conditions associated with obesity or being overweight but fundamental at the beginning of this process is a public health education message, which is about how we can live happier, healthier lives and making sure that the community as a whole, everyone is socialised around those mechanisms and that’s we come into some really big challenges as a community PIP: And I guess it’s really interesting to have a think about what we can do at local government level and even below local government level, what can we do with that community groundswell. The answer really is in the hands of the community I think the GP has a real opportunity to really help too. We had some conversations about one woman who described her experience as her GP talking to her and saying we can do this together. And it just gave her this extra confidence so I think that, because many people go to their GPs, many more people who don’t go to their GP are going to go to hospital. LEARNE: Absolutely, and to be fair, we know from general practice, these are difficult conversations because sometimes the parent of the child doesn’t necessarily see that the child is overweight or becoming overweight so one of the strategies we’re putting in place is assisting GPs, not only with resources about managing people who may be overweight but how to have the conversation. That goes to your point – we can do this together. ROGER: I think there’s a case to be made for Medicare rebates and other funding mechanisms to really be reconfigured to encourage those conversations with a GP so it doesn’t have to be a seven minute consult, it doesn’t have to be simply about the dispensing of medicine. It can be a whole range of things that should be able to take place in the context of your primary healthcare. LEARNE: So more about wellness, rather than sickness. Well thank you very much for your time. Great conversation, one that’s going to continue no doubt. ROGER: This is a generational issue, it impacts on our lives about the food you eat at your local supermarket, about the activities you undertake at school. This is going to run the length and breadth of our entire community. PIP: And I think the vision really is there’s so much great work already going on, it’s about how can we continue to link up with people and amplify the work together. LEARNE: Well it is. it’s Better Health, Together. Thank you very much. Bye for now.