Page 1555 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 May 2015

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The Government has made overweight and obesity an important priority and launched the Towards Zero Growth Healthy Weight Action Plan (HWAP) in October 2013 to support the outcome of ‘zero growth’ in the rates of overweight and obesity in the ACT. The HWAP recognises that reaching the zero growth target will require a whole of Government approach, outlining 19 actions across a number of ACT Government Directorates. This HWAP builds on the established health promotion programs and services delivered by ACT Health or funded by ACT Health through non-government organisations.

Determining the relative level of expenditure for obesity support, prevention and related activities is complex, and there is no agreed methodology. For example, providing a new cycle way to support more people riding to work will improve physical activity levels, and therefore improve weight outcomes at a population level, but such expenditure would normally be considered a transport infrastructure cost, not an obesity-related cost.

Given such complex considerations I have therefore provided answers to your questions defining ‘obesity support services’ as those that relate to a primary outcome of improved weight status or improved nutrition choices or increased physical activity. I have also included other health promotion support services and programs that tackle the wider chronic disease burden, including obesity prevention.

(a) ACT Health obesity support services

The 2013-14 ACT budget provided funding for the establishment of a public Obesity Management Service. This service commenced operation in February 2014 at the Belconnen Community Health Centre. This is a clinical service, including bariatric surgery that treats morbidly obese patients and manages their co-morbidities. In 2014-15 financial year a further $0.5m was allocated to this service and $0.250m was provided for bariatric surgery procedures.

The School Kids Intervention Program (SKIP) commenced in early 2015 as a pilot program, and as such, has been funded in the 2014-15 financial year through the reallocation of existing resources, plus a HP3.3 at 0.4FTE ($16,847 for five months) for the Program Coordinator. Budget considerations are underway in order to secure funding in the 2015-16 financial year.

SKIP is a multidisciplinary, family-centred, community-based service for children aged 4 to 12 years who are overweight or obese. The service is based at Belconnen Community Health Centre.

(b) With 63 per cent of the ACT population either overweight or obese and the immense pressure and costs this places on the health system, the ACT Government is investing in health promotion services that aim to prevent the major risk factors for chronic disease including obesity and overweight. These programs are evidence based, and are offered in the settings where the majority of the population will benefit i.e. schools, early childhood centres and workplaces.

Given that Canberra Hospital incurred acute care costs of around $468 million in

2013-14, an investment in health promotion services is cost effective and necessary to reduce ongoing demands on the health system.

Table 1 details 2014-15 ACT Health Government Payment for Output (GPO) allocation on health promotion services whose primary outcome is either obesity prevention, increased physical activity or improved nutrition outcomes.

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