MORE BITE: The Royal Australasian College of Physicians wants obesity classified as a chronic disease so GPs can offer additional resources to their patients.
MORE BITE: The Royal Australasian College of Physicians wants obesity classified as a chronic disease so GPs can offer additional resources to their patients. Warren Lynam

Warwick GP supports obesity classification change

SOUTHERN Downs obesity sufferers may one day face less of a battle to lose weight if the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has its way.

The college wants obesity to be classified as a chronic disease, which might boost investment in treatment and research while softening the stigma sufferers face.

Palmerin Street Medical Practice GP Dr Andrew Rees said a change of classification would make a huge difference for sufferers.

"If it were to be acknowledged as a chronic disease, it would put in place more scope for patients to access services such as dietitians and more specialised health professionals,” he said.

"As doctors we would have the option to refer patients to these professionals at a fraction of the costs they would currently be asked to pay.

"At the moment the onus is on the patient almost entirely, with direction from their GP.

"It's up to them to make the changes to their lifestyle they need to make for the sake of their health, and it's a very difficult problem to deal with.

"Many people don't have access to education about good food.”

Dr Rees said the current Medicare position on obesity was that it was a lifestyle choice. "This isn't entirely fair. Nor is it helpful,” he said.

"On one level the government may rail against the high costs of tackling obesity as a chronic disease, but I believe the costs will only be high upfront.

"In terms of overall savings to the health budget, this could reduce costs overall in the long term because less people will be getting sick.”



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