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Doctors Not Stressing Follow-Up Plans With Obese Kids

Less Than Half of Overweight or Obese Kids Get Long-Term Follow-up

Follow the 5-2-1-0 Rule continued...

Children who are overweight or obese and have other conditions associated with obesity should be seen again in three to six months, Hancock says.

In the meantime, they should follow the 5-2-1-0 rule, she tells WebMD. “This means five fruits and vegetables a day, two hours or less of screen time such as TV or video games a day, one hour of physical activity a day, and zero or very little sugar-sweetened beverages per day.”

“If there is no improvement, the next stage is participation in a structured weight management program,” she says. These programs bring together a team of experts who help the child and their family lose weight, keep it off, and improve their health.

This allows more time to address the issues and helps to bring the entire family on board.

“The family is very, very crucial,” Hancock says. “If we can find out from parents what their challenges are, we can certainly increase the level of success for the whole family.”

Unfortunately, such comprehensive weight management programs for children are not available everywhere.

Preventing Obesity Is Easier Than Treating It

Ron Feinstein, MD, the director of the Weight Management Program at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., says the key is to prevent children from becoming overweight or obese in the first place.

“The average pediatrician spends six to 10 minutes in the office with a child, and this new epidemic has challenged the pediatric community,” he says.

The focus needs to shift toward prevention. “Medical schools need to include nutritional education in pediatric residency programs,” Feinstein tells WebMD.

Also, he says, insurers need to start covering the costs of counseling for obesity. As it stands, they are more likely to pay for the treatment complications associated with obesity rather than the root cause of these problems.

This study will be presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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