Providers Want More Training To Help Treat Childhood Obesity
Many health care providers say they need more training to help treat children for weight problems, according to a new survey published as a supplement to the July issue of the journal Pediatrics, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. The survey, part of the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau's examination of childhood obesity, includes responses from 940 pediatricians, pediatric nurse practitioners and dietitians across the country. Approximately 14% of children ages six through 19 are "severely overweight," and weight problems can put children at risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart ailments later in life (AP/Houston Chronicle, 7/1). But more than one-third of pediatricians and nurses and 50% of dietitians surveyed said they did not initiate treatment in overweight children without obesity-related medical problems, and most survey respondents said they did not initiate treatment for young people who "didn't want to control their weight." Dr. William Dietz, director of the division of nutrition and physical activity at the CDC and chair of the committee that initiated the survey, said that many pediatricians do not address weight problems because they "don't feel confident" that they know how to treat them. More than one-third of pediatricians surveyed said they had "low proficiency in behavior management techniques to help patients lose weight"; nearly 25% said they lacked the expertise to get parents to help their children lose weight; and nearly 20% said they were not prepared to help patients adopt a less sedentary lifestyle. Study co-author Dr. Sarah Barlow, a St. Louis University researcher, noted that many providers are worried about "offending" family members of overweight patients and causing self-esteem problems in children by mentioning their weight (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/30).
To fight weight problems among U.S. children, the CDC has launched a multimillion dollar national ad campaign encouraging "tweens" -- children ages nine through 13 -- to be more physically active, the AP/Nando Times reports. The ads, which feature the tag line "VERB. It's what you do," feature computer-generated child-like figures formed with words such as "slide" and "pass." Future ads will show children performing racing and climbing activities and feature celebrity athletes. The campaign also has its own Web site (www.verbnow.com). The ads will air on youth-oriented stations, including Nickelodeon and MTV, and eventually will appear on billboards, in magazines and in other media outlets. Lauren Russ, a spokesperson for Publicis Groupe, which is handling the campaign's promotion, said the ads should reach 85% of the tween market. The CDC campaign has received $125 million in federal funding for its first year and $68.5 million in funding for its second year, although Congress will have to provide more money for additional years. The new campaign "ties into" the Bush administration's HealthierUS effort. That initiative highlights federal guidelines calling for at least 30 minutes of daily activity for adults and at least 60 minutes of daily activity for children (Dreyfuss, AP/Nando Times, 6/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.