Minister Welcome’s 2022 Childhood Obesity Training Funding

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD and the Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan TD have welcomed the extension of funding for the Sláintecare Integration Fund project – Childhood Obesity Training in Primary Care into 2022.

One in four children in Ireland are living with overweight or obesity and 1.8% of children have severe obesity. Children living with obesity have a higher risk of adult diseases such as stroke, cardiovascular disease and about 11 different cancers. They also are at risk of other childhood health complications and illnesses. At present, most health professionals do not receive any specific training on childhood obesity.

Facilitating Integration of Childhood Obesity Services in Primary Care through Education was piloted from funding provided through the Sláintecare Integration Fund.  Funding for the continuation of the project in 2022 is being provided by Healthy Ireland. The project aims to equip health professionals with knowledge, skills and confidence to help and support children who have obesity around the country.

The project is a collaboration between RCSI School of Physiotherapy, the Child and Adolescent Obesity Service in Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street, UCD, GP representatives, the Irish Coalition of People with Obesity and the Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland.

Minister Feighan said: “As Minister for Public Health and Well Being, I am keenly aware that disadvantaged children have double the risk of developing obesity. When families look for clinical support to help their children, it is imperative that our health service offers the right help, and that that help is respectful and sensitive.”

“I am delighted that the voices of children who currently have obesity, their families, as well as adults who had obesity as children, have been central to designing the modules that make up this training programme.”

“The theme for World Obesity Day 2022 is ‘Everybody Needs to Act’, and through this training, we are empowering health professionals to act sensitively but decisively to ensure better health outcomes for children in their adult lives.”

The collaborative project is led by Dr. Grace O’Malley of the RCSI Obesity Research and Care Group and Clinical Lead of the W82GO Child and Adolescent Obesity Service in CHI at Temple Street. Collaborating with health professionals including, Professor Clodagh O’Gorman, Foundation Chair & Professor of Paediatrics, University of Limerick the project team aims to build health professional engagement and experience, to enhance knowledge, to address perceived communication barriers and low confidence, and to establish a community of practice.

They had initially aimed to provide training for 75 health professionals through 2020. However, the planned deliverables were exceeded with over 1100 health professionals registered for training and over 750 hours of training completed to date.

Minister Donnelly said: “The innovation the team have brought to this project is uplifting to see, and the results speak for themselves with participants reporting that self-assessed knowledge of childhood obesity has increased 100%.”

“I am delighted to announce that my Department is providing funding for 2022 through Healthy Ireland and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the next phase of this project as the team aims to move from building health professional knowledge to developing clinical and communication skills, and how to apply them.”

Watch the Sláintecare webinar “Enhancing capacity & skills for the management of chronic conditions” from 18th November 2022 available to watch here.

World Obesity Day 2022 Logo

Minister Donnelly further stated: “As children move through their lives to adulthood, they will encounter many healthcare professionals. Community healthcare is a very important part of this care for young people with Public Health Nurses, GPs, Community Dietitians, Community Physiotherapists all having an important role to play.

“The delivery of this free, high-quality training allows health professionals to develop their knowledge and aims to improve access to care for children and adolescents with obesity. By improving training, the project facilitates health professionals to provide children and families with a better patient experience including less stigmatising attitudes from health professionals.”