Media ReleaseFrom: Wiley-Blackwell
General practitioners and preconception weight management in New Zealand
Background: Childhood obesity is a growing concern internationally and a top
priority for the World Health Organization. Preconception overweight, obesity
and excess gestational weight gain significantly increase childhood obesity risk.
Optimising preconception weight is a key preventative measure toward reducing
childhood obesity. In 2014, the New Zealand ( NZ ) Ministry of Health released
guidance for health practitioners on healthy weight gain in pregnancy in an effort to reduce the burden of childhood obesity.
Aim: To explore the knowledge and practice of NZ general practitioners ( GP s)
regarding preconception and gestational weight management.
Materials and methods: A nationwide survey was conducted on a randomly
selected sample of NZ GP s using a mixed methods approach. Descriptive statistics were used for survey responses and a general inductive approach was applied to the free text data.
Results: A total of 200 GPs (42.5%) responded. The majority of GPs were aware of the risks of obesity in pregnancy. Over 50% of GPs reported practice that was not consistent with recommended standards of care. Ministry of Health guidance was known to only 12% of participants. Themes emerging from the free text data included: lack of opportunity for, and awareness of, preconception care; recognition of the importance of this area; and need for further learning.
Conclusions: General practitioners in NZ are not providing optimal preconception care. This research highlights the need for a public health message encouraging preconception counselling and better education of GP s on the topic. This should start with promotion of the Ministry of Health guidance.