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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 7 Hansard (6 August) . .

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The government, of course, recognises that some people need help to manage chronic obesity, and for this reason it has established the obesity management service through ACT Health. The obesity management service supports adults with a high level of obesity to improve their health and wellbeing. The service focuses on those who are at high risk of developing complications from their obesity or those who already have additional health problems. The service team includes doctors, nurses, dieticians, psychologists, physiotherapists and exercise physiologists.

The recent ACT budget also included $1.03 million over four years for public bariatric surgery for the ACT. Bariatric surgery provides a surgical option for a small number of people struggling with obesity and will be closely linked to the newly opened obesity management service.

In conclusion, it is estimated that in 10 years Australia will be spending some $7.4 billion each year on treating additional diseases caused by overweight and obesity. If I am right, a proactive response to the obesity and overweight challenge is relatively cheap in health terms. It does, however, require the support and participation of people from all fields. The government recognises that it has a leadership role to show courage in the public interest and a willingness to challenge strong commercial interests, to be dedicated in the way we share evidence with the community and educate people about the healthy weight as it applies to them, and to convert community support into the momentum needed to make a significant change. I encourage everybody to support Dr Bourke's motion.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (5.27): I thank members for their support of this important motion on the impact of the rising rates of overweight and obesity, and I concede that members have recognised that obesity is one of our greatest public health challenges. I oppose the amendment from Mr Hanson for two reasons: firstly, the healthy weight initiative of the ACT government is all about encouraging working the community as a whole to make healthy options available. The second point of his amendment surprises me, because I would have thought someone who styles himself as a potential health minister one day would have been aware of the NHMRC's 2013 report, Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, Adolescents and Children in Australia. It is a 660-page document, members, so you could not really miss it.

That report concluded that bariatric surgery is an effective treatment option to achieve and maintain significant weight loss in obese patients. That is a pretty significant statement and really negates the need or the desire for a longitudinal study given the depth and breadth of that systematic review, a systematic review which identified 4,291 article abstracts on obesity and overweight, that selected 416 to be identified for review and then actually reviewed 137 studies, 70 of which were systemic reviews and 67 of which were randomised control clinical trials.

Given the small size of the ACT jurisdiction and the small numbers of people who would be undergoing this procedure in the ACT, you would have to conclude that the value of a longitudinal study in the ACT would be extremely questionable. That is why I oppose that part, and that is why I oppose all of Mr Hanson's amendment. I commend the motion to the Assembly.


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