Public statement about recent media

25 February 2019

The health and mental well-being of those participating in the Fast Track to Health study is our first priority at all times.

The trial, which is specifically targeted at adolescents with moderate to severe obesity and who meet strict criteria, involves highly experienced weight management specialists including paediatricians and dietitians. There is also a highly experienced eating disorder researcher assisting with the trial.

Significant precautions have been taken to identify any risks of harm to any participant during the trial and appropriate steps are in place to manage and mitigate these risks.

All participants are actively seeking weight loss treatment. These participants must be at least 13 years of age and both the participant and parental/guardian must have provided consent. They are closely supported throughout the trial and are gradually transitioned to a healthy, long-term eating plan. Follow up support will also occur after the treatment phase has finished.

The treatment provided through the trial is targeted specifically at adolescents with moderate to severe obesity. This type of eating plan should only be undertaken under close clinical supervision of a multi-disciplinary team in a tertiary hospital setting and is not intended as general advice to the public. 

This study aims to compare different eating plans that have had success with adults, and assess their effectiveness with adolescents with severe obesity. Under close clinical supervision, it compares a continuous daily energy restriction versus an intermittent energy restriction. Both plans are nutritionally balanced to meet the needs of growing adolescents.

The trial is being conducted at two highly respected tertiary hospitals, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Monash Children’s Hospital, as well as the University of Sydney and Monash University in Victoria. It has undergone a rigorous ethics approval process including external reviews, which look specifically at the safety of the trial. This resulted in additional safeguards being included for participants on the trial.

We know there is an increasing number of young people affected by moderate to severe levels of obesity – one in four Australian adolescents have overweight or obesity issues – and there are a range of health complications that result from this, including type 2 diabetes, liver disease, high blood pressure, musculoskeletal disorders and sleep apnoea. In later life this is categorically linked with an increased risk of cancer and shorter life expectancy.

Currently, there is no gold standard intervention that helps young people who seek weight management – different interventions may work for different individuals – and a suite of evidence-based treatments are needed and must be tested, so choice can be offered.

Study leads have met recently with key community and professional eating disorder organisations and will be continuing these conversations to work through their concerns.

Interview with ABC radio Melbourne

21 February 2019

Listen to Professor Louise Baur discuss Fast Track to Health on ABC Radio Melbourne in her interview with Richelle Hunt.

For more information about Fast Track, contact us by clicking on the link below.