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

surement.

Perrin's research group trained pediatric resident physicians on how to use the color-coded BMI chart and a revision of a questionnaire called "Starting the Conversation," originally designed by Alice Ammerman, DrPh, director of the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention program in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and a co-author on the study. The STC gives health care providers a snapshot of potential red flags to help counsel patients as well as tips to implement change.

Parents were asked about their children's weight status and discussions about weight in the doctor's office. The Starting the Conversation form used in this study was revised by Perrin and asked parents about non-healthy eating habits frequency of sugary snacks, sugar-sweetened beverages and eating out at restaurants, as well as activity and screen time. It also asked about the parent's readiness to change. The pediatrics residents were instructed to show parents their children's weight status in a color-coded BMI chart and were taught to use the parents' responses to the questionnaire to engage the parents in discussions about healthier eating behaviors and activities.

Researchers enrolled 115 children ages 4 to 12 who were covered by Medicaid or the State Health Insurance Program and repeated the Starting the Conversation questionnaire as well as questions about weight status at one-month and three-month follow-up appointments.

The study showed the most significant improvement in dietary changes among children who were overweight. At follow up, they were more likely than healthy-weight children to drink lower-fat milk and showed the largest reduction in the frequency of eating out. But overall, children improved fruit and vegetable consumption, decreased sweetened beverages and unhealthy snacks, drank lower-fat milk more and reduced screen time.

In the initial visit, all of the parents of healthy-weight children accurately
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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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