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PaediatricJun 10, 2022

Physio Grace O'Malley says childhood obesity needs multidisciplinary response after paper published

Physiotherapists are playing a key role in a Dublin-based service that a research study has shown is helping children and adolescents who have problems with obesity.

The W82GO child and adolescent obesity service, which operates from Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) in Temple Street, was set up under a different title in 2005 and is the only one of its type in the Republic of Ireland.

A study appearing in the latest edition of Frontiers in Nutrition evaluates the service’s achievements over the past 12 years. It shows that the multidisciplinary W82GO team has improved obesity-related outcomes for the young people it treats.

Patients are referred to the service by a paediatrician and are assessed by physiotherapists, dietitians and psychologists who develop personalised obesity treatment plans.

Photo Credit: RCSI
Grace O'Malley: childhood obesity is a chronic disease needing a multidisciplinary response

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Health improvements

The paper’s first author is Cathy Wyse, a member of the obesity research and care group at the School of Physiotherapy, RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dublin.

Dr Wise and the other six members of the research team – two of whom (Grace O’Malley and Lucinda Case) are members of the W82GO physiotherapy service – examined outcomes for nearly 700 children and adolescents from a range of socio-economic backgrounds.

By comparing growth chart data from the baseline and final visit, they demonstrated an overall reduction in gender- and age-adjusted body mass index (BMI) across the cohort, indicating that engagement with the W82GO Service is linked to improvements in health.

Childhood obesity is a chronic disease that requires multidisciplinary and specialist intervention ... we must evaluate the impact of evidence-based interventions in real-world settings in order to increase the translation of research into practice [Grace O'Malley] 

The paper's 'senior author' is Grace O’Malley, who is the W82GO service's clinical lead and clinical specialist physiotherapist and is also a lecturer at the RCSI school of physiotherapy.

She commented on the study's findings in an article published on the RCSI’s website, noting: ‘Childhood obesity is a chronic disease that requires multidisciplinary and specialist intervention, however, access to treatment is limited globally.

‘We must evaluate the impact of evidence-based interventions in real-world settings in order to increase the translation of research into practice and enhance child health outcomes.'

Dr O’Malley is the secretary of the European Association for the Study of Obesity and a core member of the committee that drew up draft guidance on obesity for the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence, which was published in April. To read more about PhysioUpdate's coverage, visit: https://www.physioupdate.co.uk/news/physios-urged-to-respond-to-nice-guidance-on-obesity-drawn-up-with-input-from-grace-omalley/

Dr O’Malley added: ‘Our research shows that the W82GO Service is an important intervention for managing severe obesity in children and young people. In particular, we found that the intervention was especially impactful for younger service users, and those who engaged in the service for more than 12 months.’

Additional analysis

Additional analysis conducted by the researchers revealed no significant association between change in BMI and any of the other parameters, such as treatment type, gender, obesity category at admission or presence of co-morbid conditions.

Further research, the team concluded, is needed to assess the impact of the W82GO service on more health-related factors – including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, physical fitness and mental health.

The work outlined in the study was funded by the Temple Street Foundation, the Health Research Board of Ireland and the RCSI Strategic Academic Recruitment (StAR) Fellowship.

To see the full version of the paper, titled Evaluating 12 Years of Implementing a Multidisciplinary Specialist Child and Adolescent Obesity Treatment Service: Patient-Level Outcomes, visit: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.895091/full

To find out more about the W82GO Child and Adolescent Obesity Service, visit: https://w82go.ie

To read the RCSI website article in full, visit: https://www.rcsi.com/dublin/news-and-events/news/news-article/2022/06/irelands-only-obesity-service-for-children-does-improve-health-outcomes

Author: Ian A McMillan
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