Child obesity has become such a problem in Australia that a Sydney hospital has dedicated one of its medical staff to treating overweight children. The Children’s Hospital at Westmead believes it may be the first such appointment in the world. Demand for weight management services at the hospital has increased five-fold in the past three years and there are waiting lists. Seventeen morbidly obese children were treated in 2005; this year the number is expected to be at least 90. Nationally, there are an estimated 1.5 million overweight and obese children.
The new specialist, Dr Shirley Alexander, says her role will involve educating parents about healthy food and exercise options and treating those whose weight is affecting their health. Overweight teenagers have a higher risk of growing into overweight adults, with an increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, sleep apnoea and liver disease. “All the improvements that have been made in combating these diseases is being wiped out by obesity,” says the Children’s Hospital director of clinical services, Dr Michael Brydon. ~ Sydney Morning Herald, August 18