In 2014, 62% of females and 70% of males aged 16 years and living in New South Wales remote regions were overweight or obese.
Despite this need, the availability of public services for families seeking help to manage child weight issues is limited. Currently waiting lists of six-12 months exist for the three metropolitan-based children's hospitals offering specialist weight management services within the state, and access for those in regional areas is even more difficult.
This project will enable Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) to bring together leading research from University of Newcastle with clinicians from John Hunter Hospital, to provide Nutrition Connect, a telehealth nutrition intervention for rural parents in NSW who are concerned about their child's weight or eating habits.
This health service innovation project involves an upgrade to the existing Back to Basics online platform to include high quality nutrition assessment tools, healthy eating resources and telehealth technology to assist rural families improve eating patterns.
Rural families participating in this trial will be able to gain direct access to an accredited practicing dietician via video conference or telephone, reducing the need to travel long distances to obtain an appointment with a health professional. Improved access to information will enable these families to start making changes straight away, rather than being placed on lengthy waiting lists, which can reduce motivation.
This project will specifically meet the needs of rural families by using telehealth technology as a means of support and providing access to improved online services.
Initially the program will target 150 participants across the Hunter & New England, Central Coast, as well as Western and Northern NSW. Due to the online and technology-based format of the program, it is hoped this will be an effective model to expand to other regions where the need exists.
For more information on the program visit www.hmri.org.au