Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simple tools help parents understand a child's risk of obesity, make positive changes

Date:
July 12, 2010
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have confirmed previous reports that parents of overweight or obese children do not recognize their child's weight problem. But this time, by arming pediatricians with a "toolkit," an easily used chart and a series of questions and suggestions, the researchers addressed several problems.

Lead study author Eliana Perrin, M.D., M.P.H., explains one of the tools that is included in the toolkit.
Credit: Photo by Tom Hughes/UNC Medical Center News Office

Some simple interventions used by pediatricians were enough to change a parent's perspective about a child's being overweight or obese, and change the parent's behaviors at home to reduce those risks.

Related Articles


According to a study performed in North Carolina Children's Hospital, researchers confirmed previous reports that parents of overweight or obese children do not recognize their child's weight problem. But this time, by arming pediatricians with a "toolkit," an easily used chart and a series of questions and suggestions, the researchers addressed several problems.

"Doctors often don't have time to discuss overweight; they don't have the tools to do it; and many aren't confident that they're going to make a difference in their patients' lives," said Eliana Perrin, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and lead author of the study, published in the July-August issue of Academic Pediatrics.

"Also, parents don't recognize weight problems or don't know how to make things better, and even if they do, there are often barriers to healthier eating or more activity for these families," says Perrin.

As First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign aims to reduce childhood obesity -- almost one-third of young people are overweight -- two leading questions are how to affect that change and if it can be successful.

Perrin's study is likely the first evidence that a parent's assessment of their child's weight can be changed. Her study also showed improved dietary behaviors in children and reduced time playing video games or watching television, called "screen time."

"We found something we can do to help stem the obesity epidemic," says Perrin, whose previous research in childhood obesity has shown that using a body mass index, or BMI, chart color-coded like a traffic light helps parents understand the often confounding measurement.

Perrin's research group trained pediatric resident physicians on how to use the color-coded BMI chart and a revision of a questionnaire called "Starting the Conversation," originally designed by Alice Ammerman, DrPh, director of the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention program in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and a co-author on the study. The STC gives health care providers a snapshot of potential red flags to help counsel patients as well as tips to implement change.

Parents were asked about their children's weight status and discussions about weight in the doctor's office. The Starting the Conversation form used in this study was revised by Perrin and asked parents about non-healthy eating habits -- frequency of sugary snacks, sugar-sweetened beverages and eating out at restaurants, as well as activity and screen time. It also asked about the parent's readiness to change. The pediatrics residents were instructed to show parents their children's weight status in a color-coded BMI chart and were taught to use the parents' responses to the questionnaire to engage the parents in discussions about healthier eating behaviors and activities.

Researchers enrolled 115 children ages 4 to 12 who were covered by Medicaid or the State Health Insurance Program and repeated the Starting the Conversation questionnaire as well as questions about weight status at one-month and three-month follow-up appointments.

The study showed the most significant improvement in dietary changes among children who were overweight. At follow up, they were more likely than healthy-weight children to drink lower-fat milk and showed the largest reduction in the frequency of eating out. But overall, children improved fruit and vegetable consumption, decreased sweetened beverages and unhealthy snacks, drank lower-fat milk more and reduced screen time.

In the initial visit, all of the parents of healthy-weight children accurately perceived their child's weight. However, only 57 percent of overweight children's parents did so at baseline. That improved significantly to 74 percent at three month follow up.

BMI was measured and tracked and a few children became more overweight, while more reached healthier weights but no significant improvements in weight status were noted in this short study, Perrin says. "The research has to be replicated and expanded, and it must determine if improvements in parental perception of children's weight motivates families to improve behavior and, ultimately, leads to healthier weight over time," she says.

"Everyone's talking about BMI and we have a lot of studies to show that parents do not see their overweight children as overweight. That often does not sink in with parents," Perrin says. "This is the first time we've seen a changed perspective from parents. We hope that parents who know their children are overweight will be empowered to help them achieve healthier lifestyles that can last a lifetime."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Simple tools help parents understand a child's risk of obesity, make positive changes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100712103443.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2010, July 12). Simple tools help parents understand a child's risk of obesity, make positive changes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100712103443.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Simple tools help parents understand a child's risk of obesity, make positive changes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100712103443.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins