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Simple tools help parents understand a child's risk of obesity, make positive changes
Date:7/12/2010

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. Some simple interventions used by pediatricians were enough to change a parent's perspective about a child's being overweight or obese, and change the parent's behaviors at home to reduce those risks.

According to a study performed in North Carolina Children's Hospital, researchers confirmed previous reports that parents of overweight or obese children do not recognize their child's weight problem. But this time, by arming pediatricians with a "toolkit," an easily used chart and a series of questions and suggestions, the researchers addressed several problems.

"Doctors often don't have time to discuss overweight; they don't have the tools to do it; and many aren't confident that they're going to make a difference in their patients' lives," said Eliana Perrin, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and lead author of the study, published in the July-August issue of Academic Pediatrics.

"Also, parents don't recognize weight problems or don't know how to make things better, and even if they do, there are often barriers to healthier eating or more activity for these families," says Perrin.

As First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign aims to reduce childhood obesity almost one-third of young people are overweight two leading questions are how to affect that change and if it can be successful.

Perrin's study is likely the first evidence that a parent's assessment of their child's weight can be changed. Her study also showed improved dietary behaviors in children and reduced time playing video games or watching television, called "screen time."

"We found something we can do to help stem the obesity epidemic," says Perrin, whose previous research in childhood obesity has shown that using a body mass index, or BMI, chart color-coded like a traffic light helps parents understand the often confounding mea
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Contact: Tom Hughes
tahughes@unch.unc.edu
919-966-6047
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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