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Media release

Australian GPs identify obesity as one of the most detrimental health issues of the future

6 October 2017

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says all Australians concerned about overweight or obesity must seek the advice and support of their GP, if the nation is to avoid seeing 70 per cent of the population obese or overweight by 2025.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel encourages all Australians to speak to their GP about weight management.

“Early intervention by a GP plays a key role in an attempt to change the weight gain trajectory that patients with obesity often find themselves on,” Dr Seidel said.

“Obesity is a disease and, like other diseases, deserves immediate attention.

“As the first point of contact for most Australians seeking medical attention, GPs are in an unparalleled position to both identify those at risk of developing obesity and initiate treatment for those with established overweight or obesity.”

The RACGP’s General Practice: Health of the Nation 2017 report found Australian GPs identified obesity and complications from obesity as one of the most significant health problems Australia faces today and will continue to face in coming years as the incidence of obesity continues to rise.

Dr Seidel said, without remedial action by GPs, in collaboration with government and the community, Australia will continue to face this detrimental and costly problem in the future.

“Many patients with obesity experience discrimination, shame and stigma. We need to change this narrative; the purpose of this walk is to give such patients a voice,” Dr Seidel said.

On current trends, 2.7 billion adults worldwide will suffer from overweight and obesity by 2025. At present two in three Australian adults and one in four school aged children have overweight or obesity.

Dr Seidel said, despite advances in global medical treatments and technologies, children who are above a healthy weight have a quality of life as poor as that of children with cancer.

“Sadly, there is a real risk that these children might not outlive their parents,” Dr Seidel said

“There is a serious sense of urgency, and the time to act is now.”

The RACGP inaugural ‘Walk against obesity’ will be held in Melbourne this Sunday, to raise awareness of the issues associated with obesity and the key role GPs play in the care and management of people who have obesity or are above a healthy weight.

“The Walk against obesity will give GPs the opportunity to share ideas about how they can tackle this serious chronic health problem,” Dr Seidel said.

“We all play a key role in managing this disease and we need to collaborate so that we can fight it faster.”

The Walk against obesity will commence at RACGP House, 100 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne at 10am.

Australian GPs, other healthcare practitioners, and members of the community are invited to attend.