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Expert Panel Explores How to Engage Pediatricians and Primary Care Physicians in Childhood Obesity Prevention and Intervention
New Rochelle, NY, December 8, 2010—As the prevalence of childhood obesity approaches epidemic levels, physicians on the “front line” need to become more involved in obesity prevention and weight management to reverse this dangerous trend among their young patients. But several obstacles discourage pediatricians and other primary care physicians from taking a more active role in managing childhood obesity. An expert panel identified these barriers and explored strategies for overcoming them in a Roundtable Discussion on “New Ways to Overcome Old Barriers: Engaging Pediatricians and Primary Care Physicians in Obesity Prevention and Intervention” presented in the current issue of Childhood Obesity, a journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The article is available free online.
Melinda Sothern, PhD, Professor and Director, Section of Health Promotion, Behavioral, and Community Health Sciences Department in the School of Public Health at LouisianaStateUniversityHealthSciencesCenter (New Orleans, LA) and PenningtonBiomedicalResearchCenter (Baton Rouge, LA) moderated the Roundtable Discussion. Participants included Sonia Caprio, MD, Yale University School of Medicine (New Haven, CT); Stephen Daniels, MD, PhD, University of Colorado School of Medicine (Aurora); Stewart Gordon, MD, Louisiana State University School of Medicine (New Orleans, LA); and David Ludwig, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston (Massachusetts). The panelists identified several key barriers, including inadequate reimbursement for childhood obesity management and prevention; lack of office time to interact with and educate patients; lack of financial resources to support patient/family education and counseling; and a “toxic” culture that encourages poor nutrition, overeating, and a sedentary lifestyle.
“Unless government and insurance reimburses for primary care prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, it is not going to happen in a comprehensive way,” said David Ludwig.
Moderator Melinda Sothern proposed the creation of “community hubs” in which primary care offices and clinics form alliances with schools, recreation departments, or community centers in the area and work together “to support efforts to identify, organize, and implement” group programs for children who are overweight or obese.
The panelists also discussed the need to include more information about childhood obesity and proper nutrition in the educational experiences of medical students and residents. To help overcome time limitations, primary care physicians can encourage their nursing staff to talk to parents about the significance of the measurements they are taking, such as weight and height, laying the groundwork for the physician to reinforce those messages.
Too often, pediatricians “do not plot the BMI (body mass index) over time and do not focus on the development of obesity,” says Stephen Daniels, emphasizing the importance of identifying trends such as increasing BMI as a key step in prevention and management of childhood obesity.
Childhood Obesity is a bimonthly journal, published in print and online, and the journal of record for all aspects of communication on the broad spectrum of issues and strategies related to weight management and obesity prevention in children and adolescents. The Journal includes peer-reviewed articles documenting cutting-edge research and clinical studies, opinion pieces and roundtable discussions, profiles of successful programs and interventions, and updates on task force recommendations, global initiatives, and policy platforms. It reports on news and developments in science and medicine, features programs and initiatives developed in the public and private sector, and includes a Literature Watch and Web Watch.