Strategies for the NP to Prevent Pediatric Obesity

 

In a recent study by McKee, Maher, Deen & Blank (2010), found that the primary care office is an ideal place to introduce healthy lifestyle changes for children and begin to address the pediatric obesity epidemic. Using parents in qualitative focus groups expressed their desire to change behaviors in order to achieve healthier families. Parents in the study wanted their primary care providers to focus more on healthy lifestyle during their child's well-visits.Collaborative goal setting between parents and providers focusing on healthy behavior change with a referral to behavioral change counselor were noted as highly acceptable to the parents in these focus groups. Many NPs may not have access to a behavioral change counselor, and must take on this role themselves. In these cases, it is important to remember parent and child motivation for change. Focusing on small changes over a longer period of time rather than global advice from primary care providers to "be more healthy" can be implemented by families who have ingrained habits and cultural preferences.

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Parents in the McKee study voiced their frustrations with providers who offer advice about necessary behavior change, but then fail to develop a plan of action in order for the family to achieve such change. Simply setting some primary goals with short and long-term completion dates could be a solution to this parent/patient frustration with provider advice.