News and Notices

Changing children’s lives across the South Island

The five South Island district health boards (DHBs) have agreed on a regional approach to address childhood obesity and meet the new Ministry of Health target, which comes into effect on 1 July.  

Under the South Island Alliance, the collaboration of the five South Island DHBs, a suite of referral options will be made available to GPs to refer at-risk children and their families, ensuring equal access to high quality resources for all South Island residents.  

Child obesity expert and chair of the South Island Childhood Healthy Weight Clinical Advisory Group, Professor Barry Taylor, says an integrated approach is the most effective pathway to prevent and manage overweight children in the South Island. “Consistent messages are very important. At present, a patient might visit two different health professionals and be told two completely different things. So, we have agreed on a common set of key resources so that the same messages are delivered consistently across the region.”

The Alliance identified childhood healthy weight as a priority in 2014 and in 2015 established a clinical advisory group to develop a regional plan to help prevent, identify and manage unhealthy weight in children. This work now supports the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan and new health target. Under the target, obese children will be identified at B4 School Checks (B4SC) and DHBs will be responsible for referring them for assessment and family-based interventions.

As part of the South Island plan, GPs will be provided a suite of referral options. Amongst these, for selected cases, will be Triple P Lifestyle, a cost-effective, evidence-based parenting course that focuses on behavioural change, nutrition and physical activity advice for the whole family.

A popular resource that has been used across the health sector in Waikato since mid-2015 will also be available in the South Island. BeSmarter, which was developed as a parent/child friendly way to start conversations about health and goal-setting, is currently used by paediatricians, nurses, dieticians, dentists, GPs, practice nurses and B4SC staff.

Read the full press release from the South Island Alliance.