Pediatricians often miss important opportunities to talk about nutrition, exercise, and emotional issues with overweight teens, suggests new research from California.
Focusing on these issues in overweight adolescents may give doctors a chance to stop unhealthy behavior that could be setting kids up for obesity before it's too late, said study author Dr. Carolyn Bradner Jasik.
Once kids are obese, these behaviors are entrenched, and it's much more difficult," she told Reuters Health.
Her new research hints that while doctors may take the time to ask obese teens about diet and physical activity, and to help them work through ways to improve their health, they may overlook opportunities to have the same conversation with overweight teens.
"There's increased recognition that obesity is a problem and physicians are starting to do more with the population that is defined as obese," said Dr. Randall Stafford, who has studied obesity counseling at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. "But they still are neglecting this population that is on a trajectory toward developing obesity."
While obese teens were more likely to say they talked with their doctors about diet and exercise, that wasn't the case for overweight teens. And over the course of the survey years, pediatricians became less likely to talk to their patients -- including the obese teens -- about any of those issues.
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