As part of a child’s health assessment, clinicians now measure and record the height and weight of all children who are seen in Northern NSW Local Health District Health facilities at least every three months. This helps to monitor whether children are tracking above a healthy weight and opens the way for talking to parents and carers about the links between healthy weight and good health.
GPs in private practice are also encouraged to regularly track children’s weight and height, as a way of helping children maintain a healthy weight. But many practitioners find it difficult to raise the issue of overweight or obesity with a child’s parent or carers.
The Healthy Kids for Professionals website provides comprehensive advice and examples of how to talk sensitively to families about weight issues, and the steps to take if a child is above a healthy weight.
Motivating parents and carers to make simple lifestyle changes can lead to significant health improvements. The aim is to focus on positive messages of increasing physical activity and eating healthy foods.
GPs can refer parents and carers of eligible (above the healthy weight for gender and age) children aged 7-13 years to the free Go4Fun program. Go4Fun is a successful, evidence-based program for helping children and their families to be more active and eat healthy food.
Program results show significant and sustained improvements in all key areas measured. Post-program measurement of the children consistently shows reduction of BMI, waist measurement, improved nutrition, improved fitness and improved self-esteem.
NSW Health provides free Go4Fun after-school programs at venues across the Northern Rivers. The two-hour program for both children and their parents and carers is held once a week during school term.
In Term 1 2019, Go4Fun programs are being run in Tweed, Lismore and Grafton. Aboriginal-specific programs are planned to be delivered in Casino and Grafton. For children in areas without Go4Fun programs, there is also Go4Fun online. Term 2 program locations will vary from Term 1.
The emphasis is on practical, fun learning and the program is designed to deliver sustained improvements in families’ diets, fitness levels and overall health.
There are always plenty of spaces in Go4Fun programs, and there are many children and families who could greatly benefit from participating. If you know of a family who could benefit, please pass on the information about Go4Fun or directly refer and help kids on the path to better health.
Phoebe Nicholls is the Go4Fun Coordinator for NNSW LHD. For further information email Phoebe.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (02) 6621 1932.