Pediatricians’ Roles in the Primary Prevention of Childhood Obesity

A recent clinical report* outlines the role of pediatricians in the primary prevention (i.e., prevention of unhealthy weight gain in healthy weight children) of childhood obesity. Pediatricians are well-suited to this task for a number of reasons (e.g., they follow children over time, employ a family-centered approach, are seen as a well-child-visitreliable source of health information and experts in the field), and the authors assess evidence to support the roles that pediatricians should play, including (i) assessing the complex and interconnected factors of families that may lead to children’s unhealthy weight gain, (ii) tailoring prevention messages to individual families based on socioeconomic, cultural, and psychological characteristics as well as children’s developmental stage, (iii) routinely screening for unhealthy weight gain at each health care visit using percentile charts, and (iv) providing families not only with education on obesity prevention but also evidence-based strategies to facilitate behavior modification.

Notably, the authors identified knowledge gaps and future directions, one being the need to understand the role of theory-based behavior-modification techniques in the context of childhood obesity prevention. As such, this highlights the relevance and timeliness of the RIPPLE project.

*Daniels SR, Hassink SG. The role of the pediatrician in primary prevention of obesity. Pediatrics 2015; epub ahead of print.

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