Researchers from Saint Louis University reported in the journal Pediatrics that pediatricians often miss the opportunity to talk to the parents of obese children and help them identify the problem and treat it to bring the body weight of children back to normal.
Researchers feel that it's really important that pediatricians identify overweight children during well-child visits and use that time to talk about healthy weight. The pediatrician can start by inquiring of the parent and child if they have any concerns about weight. That would give them a feel for where that family is in terms of their thinking about it.
The study team reviewed the records of nearly 33,000 children who had routine doctor's appointments between 1997 and 2000. They found that a diagnosis of obesity was recorded on charts during less than 1 percent of well-child visits. The US national rate of obesity among children at that time was substantially higher -- between 13 and 15 percent.
When the doctors diagnosed obesity, they were more likely to talk to patients and their families about diet and exercise, the study found.
The findings examined reports from visits in a nationally representative sample of physician visits from 1997 to 2000.