Do You Need Help Managing Obese Patients?

Any medical practitioner who has tried to treat a patient struggling to lose weight knows the problem.

Nearly anyone can lose weight, and they can do it without help, but almost everyone puts it back on again.

Nearly two-thirds of Australian adults and one-quarter of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

These rates continue to rise, resulting in complex health issues and costing the economy billions.

Endocrinologist Dr Priya Sumithran is an expert in the management of obesity and coordinator of a soon to be released online course to train health practitioners to assess and treat obese patients who want help.

"Obesity is a complex, chronic condition," Dr Sumithran said.

Managing obesity
Nearly two-thirds of Australian adults are overweight or obese.

"The body has a way of trying to keep our weight stable and when we lose weight there are lots of biological changes that try and help us put the weight back on," she said.

"It sounds like the advice [to patients] changes a lot in the media but the underlying principle is that you have to eat less than your body burns, and you need to do it in a safe ​way that doesn't change."

From the clinician's perspective, however, this process is not straightforward.

Treating an obese patient who is trying to fall pregnant is different to managing one who is a type 2 diabetic and if the patient is very old, or very young, the advice may differ again.

Consisting of eight learning units, 19 case studies and assessments, the Management of Obesity course is suitable for general practitioners, doctors in training, dietitians, allied health professionals and students.

It has been developed by a group of seven physicians at the University of Melbourne's Department of Medicine who specialise in obesity research and clinical practice.

The most well-known contributor is Professor Joseph Proietto, a household name in obesity management and research, who established one of the first obesity clinics in Australia.

"People come from all over the country, and even internationally, to observe Prof Proietto working in the clinic," Dr Sumithran said.

"With this course being offered online, now anyone can have access to that expertise," she said.

Managing obesity
Obesity, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

An evidence-based approach is used to help practitioners assess patients and set appropriate goals, explain body weight regulation, and understand the roles of different types of diets, exercise, psychological factors, pharmacotherapy, and bariatric surgery in obesity management.

The Management of Obesity course is CPD-accredited and will be available from November.

Students will be able to access the 10-hour course on any desktop or mobile device with iOS, Android or Windows systems.

Find more information on the Management of Obesity here or contact the Mobile Learning Unit at​​​

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