Getting to grips with obesity
According to the State Government, a quarter (26.5%) of children and seven in 10 (69%) of adults are overweight or obese. Equally concerning is mounting hospital inpatient costs in Western Australia predicted to increase by 102% to almost half a billion dollars by 2021.
Obesity was recognised in the WA Government’s Sustainable Health Review as an urgent public health issue, with a commitment to halt the rise in obesity in WA by July 2024 and have the highest percentage of population with a healthy weight of all states in Australia by July 2029.
The Obesity Collaborative was developed within a collective impact framework, recognising the value of, and need for, existing partner organisations to develop a combined response to this complex problem.
In October 2018, we jointly hosted an Obesity Collaborative Summit with WA Department of Health’s Health Networks Branch and Health Consumers’ Council of WA. The aim was to inform WA’s Healthy Weight Action Plan, focusing on the early intervention and management of overweight and obesity over the next three to five years.
About 200 people, including consumers and stakeholders from the health and community sectors, attended. Participants heard from consumers about the difficulties they experienced in accessing high quality treatment programs and services tailored to their needs as well as their success stories when they were supported to reach a healthy weight.
Many of our staff took an active role in facilitating the discussions which focused on how to improve support for children, adults and families, with ideas ranging from environmental, funding and health system improvements to more specific suggestions such as upskilling the health workforce, clear referral pathways and a consumer service directory.
The resulting report was integral to the development of the final Healthy Weight Action Plan, which was released later in 2019.