Monday, June 13, 2005

Study: Pediatricians Lack Confidence

A recently released study in the Journal of Ambulatory Pediatrics, as reported by RedNova, found that only 12% of pediatricians surveyed were confident about their ability to treat overweight children. Add to that, only 11% of pediatricians are even using BMI charts to evaluate and determine if their patients are a healthy weight or not and a full third reported they hadn't even considered using the BMI charts!

A number of obstacles were cited by the doctors as barriers to reducing obesity in a pediatric clinical setting...
  • Easy availability of fast foods and sweetened soft drinks
  • Questionable school food practices
  • Limited physical activity in schools
  • Lack of reimbursement for health-care professionals other than doctors
  • Lack of printed materials for patients
  • Adults not perceiving obesity as a health hazard
  • And fear of offending children and their families

To me the above is simply a laundry list of excuses not to encourage patients and their families to take control of their health which starts with eating right.

Do children want to hear they're overweight? Of course not - but it is the responsibility of the adults in a child's life - and that includes their pediatrician - to ensure they're learning good eating habits and are on the road to lifelong health. By ignoring an overweight condition and hoping for the best simply isn't good enough.

Physicians have a responsibility to the child and the parents to provide them with information and tools to lead a healthy life.

Is it so hard to sit with a parent and child and say "you can only have a fast food meal, as a treat, once a week," or "drinking soda is not only bad for your teeth, but can also make you gain weight if you drink it everyday."

Is it so difficult to suggest to a parent that they make their child's lunch each day rather than rely on the school lunch program?

Is it really that hard to tell parents that their children need to be doing physical activity each day and if the school isn't providing a formal physical education program and recess, get your kids outside and running around after school?

And, lastly, just how challenging is it to have someone in the practice type up a "Fact Sheet" and "Eating Right" guidelines - or for that matter going online and downloading any number of pamphlets that are available - and printing them up for patients?

If nothing else, this survey shows that you're really on your own when it comes to your health and well-being. You have to take the initiative yourself to educate yourself, become informed and take control of your eating and life...thinking that your doctor, or your child's doctor is going to point out there's a problem is a risky proposition if your doctor is among the 88% who lack the confidence to bring up the obvious!

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