Providers Trained to Communicate More Effectively about Childhood Obesity

Georgia is facing a pediatric health and wellness crisis – with nearly a million Georgia children classified as overweight and obese and with many Georgia unable to do a push-up, walk a mile or even touch their toes.

The health and wellness of Upson’s families is a priority to our medical community, which is why Upson Regional Medical Center partnered with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to offer their Strong4Life Provider Training Program to local healthcare providers.

The two-hour training session, held last Thursday at Upson Regional Medical Center gives doctors, nurses and dieticians the tools to have effective conversations with children and parents about weight and health habits.

Twenty area health care providers, including school nurses, pediatricians, public health providers and fitness experts, attended the event held by Strong4Life, a Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta movement to fight childhood obesity in Georgia and help all Georgia families get and remain healthy.

It’s hard for many parents to speak to their kids, partners and even doctors about issues around weight. Georgia children are now dealing with diseases that once only faced adults, like:

• High blood pressure and high cholesterol
• Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
• Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, and asthma
• Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort
• Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro reflux, and
• Greater risk of social and psychological problems such as discrimination and poor self-esteem.

When talking about childhood obesity, health care providers aren’t getting the message across to their patients. Practical steps for improving habits are often lost in translation, child wellness experts say.

“Health care providers are uncomfortable having that conversation and a lot of times they don’t have time to have that conversation,” said Jill Giles, RN, CDE.

Giles said that doctor’s tend to speak about broad end goals rather than giving small, practical steps for changing health habits, and they often focus on education and direction rather than conversation and collaboration.

“Primary care doctors are so busy and they don’t have much time with a patient,” Giles said. “These are really just tweaks on our patient/physician interactions that will help families become healthier.”

When it comes to helping families fight childhood obesity and live healthier lives, every little step is a big win.

The top five areas where families can chip away at childhood obesity are: 1) eating more veggies and fruits 2) eating healthier when outside of the home 3) increasing physical activity, 4) reducing sweet drinks and sodas and 5) reducing screen time.

Families can take the Strong4Life assessment for a personalized evaluation of their family’s health habits. For more information on Strong4Life, visit their website at Strong4Life.com.