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Innovative Tools Help Counselors Discuss Childhood Obesity with Parents


DOI: 10.1089/chi.2012.0095

Abstract: Childhood overweight and obesity pose potential health risks for many children under the age of 5 years. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutritionists are in a unique position to help reduce this problem because of their frequent counseling contacts with clients during certification visits. Therefore, four new tools to facilitate nutritional counseling of parents of overweight children during certifications were developed and systematically evaluated. The Nutrition and Activity Self-History (NASH) form, Report Card/Action Plan (ReCAP), Talking Tips, and Healthy Weight Poster were evaluated by WIC nutritionists via an online survey. Anchors on the Likert scale were 0 for Strongly Disagree to 6 for Strongly Agree. Four regional focus groups were also conducted. Data were analyzed descriptively. The response rate on the survey was 83% (n=63). Focus groups were comprised of staff that volunteered to participate (n=34). The NASH form, which replaces a food frequency questionnaire for identifying nutrition risk, had a mean rating of 5.20 as “Helpful when counseling about weight.” The ReCAP, Talking Tips, and Healthy Weight Poster achieved mean ratings of 5.70, 4.75, and 5.30, respectively, in this category. Focus group responses were very positive about the usefulness of the ReCAP and Healthy Weight Poster to visually convey the concept of BMI percentile for age using a green, yellow, and red color-coded “traffic light” approach to showing healthy versus unhealthy BMI values. WIC programs and other pediatric health care settings may want to consider adopting these innovative tools to better serve their clients and address pediatric overweight in the populations they serve.

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