Primary Care Practice Addressing Child Overweight and Obesity: A Survey of Primary Care Physicians at Four Clinics in Southern Appalachia

Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614, USA.
Southern medical journal (Impact Factor: 1.12). 01/2011; 104(1):14-9. DOI: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e3181fc968a
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in southern Appalachia is among the highest in the United States (US). Primary care providers are in a unique position to address the problem; however, little is known about attitudes and practices in these settings.
A 61-item healthcare provider questionnaire assessing current practices, attitudes, perceived barriers, and skill levels in managing childhood overweight and obesity was distributed to physicians in four primary care clinics. Questionnaires were obtained from 36 physicians.
Physicians' practices to address childhood overweight and obesity were limited, despite the fact that most physicians shared the attitude that childhood overweight and obesity need attention. While 71% of physicians reported talking about eating and physical activity habits with parents of overweight or obese children, only 19% reported giving these parents the tools they needed to make changes. Approximately 42% determined the parents' readiness to make small changes for their overweight or obese children. Physicians' self-perceived skill level in managing childhood overweight and obesity was found to be a key factor for childhood overweight- and obesity- related practices.
Primary care physicians in southern Appalachia currently play a limited role in the prevention or intervention of childhood overweight and obesity. Training physicians to improve their skills in managing childhood overweight and obesity may lead to an improvement in practice.

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