The Healthy Weight Ruler

May 19, 2014 (old blog)

It’s a holiday, so I’ll keep this one short and sweet.

For those of you in research or clinical practice, you’ll know there are a number of ways that we can communicate children’s weight status to parents. Approaches vary; some may be as simple as a physician saying “your child is overweight” while others may require careful interpretation of quantitative data.

Research has shown there are a few factors that can facilitate this communication process, including(i) description of the health risks associated with children’s weight status, (ii) use of neutral and non-judgmental language, and (iii) when necessary, an explanation of how to interpret the information.

In a recent study by Cloutier et al. (2013), researchers investigated the use of a ‘weight ruler’ to communicate children’s weight status to parents. As you can see from the example below, the tool is colour-coded to indicate degrees of health concern and the language is relatively neutral. Findings from this study demonstrated that parents were able to easily understand their child’s weight status and associated health risks. Also, more than 75% of the parents said they preferred the weight ruler over the traditional BMI growth chart. Given this evidence, we have decided to use this tool in RIPPLE as it is likely that the heterogeneous sample of parents we expect to recruit will be able to understand and interpret the information accurately. Although not shown below, we will also include a description of the health risks associated with each weight status.

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