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Houston introduces Change program

Program offers lifestyle intervention to patients with metabolic syndrome

Houston is one of the first communities in the province to introduce the innovative Change program, which combines the expertise of dietitians and kinesiologists with a patient’s own family physician.

In partnership with Metabolic Syndrome Canada, family physicians from three northwest communities - Houston, Smithers and Haida Gwaii - are leading the way in B.C. as the very first sites to develop the program.

“With great family physician leaders from Houston, Smithers and Haida Gwaii paving the way in B.C., we look forward to seeing great success, similar to positive results that have been achieved in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec,” said Colleen Enns, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Division of Family Practice, which has been chosen to implement this project in northwest B.C.

Created by health professionals at Metabolic Syndrome Canada, the program provides family medicine clinics with the tools they need to offer effective lifestyle intervention to patients with metabolic syndrome - a health disorder that, if left untreated, greatly increases the risk of many chronic illnesses.

The program focuses on long-term changes and overall well-being, simultaneously targeting the conditions that often progress to high-blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, while reducing the need for medication.

“This new approach to health care is exciting and has been proven to be effective and helpful to patients, especially individuals with metabolic syndrome,” said Enns.

According to a 2014 study published in Chronic Diseases and Injuries in Canada, 19.1 per cent of all Canadian adults — nearly one in five people — meet this diagnosis.

The prevalence of metabolic syndrome steadily rises in older demographics. It’s estimated that 40 per cent of people over 65 have this health disorder.

The Pacific Northwest Division of Family Practice has received approximately $80,000 in funding to operate the program as a demonstration project in northwest B.C.

How does the program work?

The way the program works is that, after meeting with a family physician to discuss if the Change program would be a good option for the patient, the family physician submits the necessary information to the project coordinator.

The project coordinator plays a central role in the project by connecting and coordinating the patient’s care with the dietitian, kinesiologist and family physician, who create customized nutrition and exercise recommendations for a full year.

“This is a team approach and it includes the development of a personalized care plan that suits each patient’s unique needs and situation,” explained Enns.

Who can participate?

Houston will be able to support 20 patients as part of this project.

As Dr. Onoura Odoh has volunteered to lead this work, patients who have metabolic syndrome and are in his practice are able to participate.

Interested individuals are required to express interest, and if their health status meets the criteria to be included as a participant, they’ll be able to enrol in the program.