Jan. 12, 2005 | Taking the next step in Arkansas’ battle against childhood obesity, a group of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) physicians has developed a continuing education course to equip the state’s physicians and nurses for treating pediatric weight problems.
In 2003, the Arkansas General Assembly passed a law requiring all public school students be measured annually to calculate their body mass index (BMI) as a screening tool for identifying students who are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. “Management of Pediatric Overweight: A continuing education resource for physicians and nurses” is now available to assist primary care providers with the interpretation of the BMI data and provide strategies for treating overweight children.
“You can’t help anyone until you know who needs help and the BMI initiative helps identify those in need of help. But what comes next?” asked Karen L. Young, M.D., one of the authors of the new course. “Past the screening tool there was nothing. We needed to help educate health care providers in the state so that they feel comfortable treating their young patients.”
The continuing medical education (CME) course is one of the first of its kind in the
“Overweight in the pediatric population can no longer be considered a benign condition or one related only to cosmetic appearance,” the authors write in the CME course. “Pediatric overweight is a chronic medical condition that increases the child’s health risks. Pediatric overweight is now the most prevalent nutritional disease of children and adolescents in the
Young, an assistant professor of pediatrics and director of child and adolescent bariatrics at UAMS and medical director of the fitness clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, joined with an group of pediatric and public health specialists to develop the CME course.
The authors include:
- J. Gary Wheeler, M.D., a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the UAMS College of Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the UAMS College of Public Health
- Ronald F. Kahn, M.D., a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine, director of the Division of Preventive Medicine for the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the UAMS College of Public Health
- Delia S. West, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education in the UAMS College of Public Health and director of the UAMS College of Public Health Interdisciplinary Obesity Program.
The elements of the CME course assist health care providers in understanding the BMI measurements, which use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s BMI-for-age charts. Then it offers diagnostic tools for interpreting the BMI data for young patients.
There are basic recommendations for diet, physical activity and reduced sedentary activities. The course also includes behavioral change strategies for health care providers to use with overweight children and adolescents, including the stages of change, motivational interviewing and family-based interventions.
“There is no one-size-fits-all program for treating pediatric overweight,” Young said. “This course will help physicians tailor treatment for each patient based on family history and other factors. There are strategies for developing self-monitoring, goal setting and other skills to help their patients for a lifetime.”
The epidemic of overweight cannot be addressed in the office setting alone, the CME course notes. The course also includes steps to help health care providers become advocates in their communities.
The law mandating the BMI measurements also called for local committees in each school district to develop local plans to change the environment in a way that promotes better nutrition and physical activity in the community.
“Such changes may include regulations about the food offered in schools, vending contracts and the building of sidewalks and trails,” the authors write. “These communities need knowledgeable medical insights to guarantee a healthy environment for children.”
The course is provided by the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, which is accredited by the Arkansas Medical Society to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AFMC is also approved by the Arkansas Nurses Association for CME. CME credits are available for both physicians and nurses completing the program.
Links on This Page
Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care: http://www.afmc.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention BMI-for-age: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/bmi-for-age.htm
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