The Health News – 20 January 2017

Overview:
• Lap band surgery has significant benefits for severely obese teenagers, according to studies. It is a controversial procedure in which the stomach is banded to restrict food intake. Teenagers involved in this study showed improvements in their BMI.

• Hypnobirthing Australia director Melissa Spilsted would like to see a standardised, evidence-based antenatal education program introduced across all Australian public hospitals. Hypnobirthing is the practice of relaxation and self-hypnosis while going through childbirth.

• Choice, a consumer advocacy group, launched an online calculator to help people decide whether to pay for health insurance. The calculator works by entering personal details like income, state of residence and age, and the website helps you decide as to whether or not private health insurance is worth it or not.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  20th of January 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-19/lap-band-surgery-beneficial-extremely-obese-teens-study-finds/8194876

A new study has found that lap band surgery has significant benefits for severely obese teenagers.

Most of the adolescents involved in the study found their weight and body mass index (BMI) improved in the months and years after the surgery.

It is a controversial procedure in which the stomach is banded to restrict food intake.

Researchers said while the surgery should be considered as a management tool for obese teens, other options should be exhausted before they go under the knife.

Dr Alexia Pena, a paediatric endocrinologist and lecturer at Adelaide University, conducted the research.

“It’s a life-long commitment when you have obesity,” she said.

Dr Pena looked at 21 severely obese South Australians, aged 14 to 18, weighing anywhere from 98 to 185 kilograms who — after trying dieting and lifestyle changes — underwent lap band surgery.

She said the results were encouraging, with some teens able to lose up to 20 kilograms.

Dr Pena said this is the first study to track medium to long-term results of lap banding in adolescents.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-19/hypnobirthing-expert-calls-for-standardised-antenatal-program/8191790

Australian hospitals each deliver different antenatal education programs and now one birthing expert is calling for a more standardised approach.

Hypnobirthing Australia director Melissa Spilsted would like to see a standardised, evidence-based antenatal education program introduced across all Australian public hospitals.

“Every state is doing their own thing, every hospital is doing their own thing,” she said.

“They’re all running their own individual antenatal program so we don’t have consistency across the board.

Ms Spilsted’s particular concern is the lack of publicly-funded alternative options for birthing, including complementary therapies.

But La Trobe University director of teaching and learning Michelle Newton said while there was not a standardised antenatal program across the country, there were national antenatal clinical practice guidelines as part of a Federal Government initiative.

“There’s no actual clear, dictated approach to antenatal care that you would find in every public hospital,” Dr Newton said.

“Most hospitals would offer a very traditional model of birth preparation, which would be a lot of information-sharing about the process of birth and what happens, and what women can do and what techniques they can apply.

“But [they] wouldn’t be specifically on one technique, such as hypnobirthing or calm birthing.”

Hypnobirthing is the practice of relaxation and self-hypnosis while going through childbirth.

Ms Spilsted said her antenatal education program incorporated a range of different complementary therapies such as relaxation, self-hypnosis and breathing techniques.

There are 130 practitioners in Australia as part of her organisation, with several private hospitals and health services in the country offering the course as part of their antenatal program.

While in Australia hypnobirthing is not available under Medicare, it is a different story in the United Kingdom.

Many public hospitals in the UK fund the growing demand for hypnobirthing under some National Health Service (NHS) trusts.

Ms Spilsted attributes the steadily growing popularity of hypnobirthing in Britain to a more “progressive” and standardised approach to maternity care than the Australian public health system.

She said Australian public hospitals did not have a suite of alternative options available for women.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-19/online-calculator-private-health-insurance-cost-choice/8194950

Consumer advocacy group Choice has launched an online calculator to help people decide whether to pay for health insurance.

With premiums rising by almost 50 per cent since 2009, the question becomes more pressing each year.

Choice spokesman Matt Levy said young people especially are vulnerable to being sold policies they do not need.

“About a third of them have got a solid ‘no’ answer, and I caveat that by saying it’s a small group and by no way representative, but those are people who are obviously weighing up if this is value for money and may have concerns about it,” he said.

“Based on the information that our quiz calculates, it’s not going to add up.

“Then you get a whole bunch of people where it’s a ‘maybe’ answer, and for some people it’s a definite ‘yes’ because you’re going to come out ahead, primarily for taxation reasons.”

The calculator’s official launch was [yesterday], but there has a been a steady trickle of people using the website for a couple of weeks now.

The calculator works by entering personal details like income, state of residence and age, and the website gives you either a yes, a no, or a maybe, as to whether or not private health insurance is worth it.