Kids' Obesity Should be Doctors’ Focus

Aug 05, 2004 05:30 AM EDT

According to a recent study, obesity in children needs more attention and treatment from pediatricians.

The study, published in the August issue of Pediatrics, recommends that children be screened for hypertension as early as two or three years of age, and that doctors work harder to identify obese subjects, while discouraging behavior that promotes weight gain.

The report stressed that although obesity in children is reaching epidemic proportions, pediatricians are under-recognizing and under-treating this problem.

In the study, researchers from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh reviewed the records from 2,515 well-child visits that occurred between December 2001 and February 2002.


The researchers found that 244 children met the definition of obesity, yet obesity was listed in only 53% of their charts. In those who were identified as being obese, 81% of the charts listed adequate information on the child's diet, while only 27% contained detailed notes about the child's activity level or television viewing habits.

Along with under-identification, researchers found that clinicians were not talking about TV habits. If children are sitting in front of the TV, they aren't moving and they are more likely to be eating high-fat foods. Researchers suggest that pediatricians should be reminding parents to limit TV time, yet in the study only 5% did.

Physical activity crucial

The study said that physical activity is crucial to helping children maintain a healthy weight because it is difficult to restrict a child’s eating.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15% of American children and teens are overweight. Overweight youngsters are more likely to grow up to be overweight or obese adults, and being overweight increases their risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.


1. S. Harvey O’Brien; Cohen Reis, E., Holubkov, R., “Identification, Evaluation, and Management of Obesity in an Academic Primary Care Center,” Pediatrics, 2004: 114: e154-e159.