Background: Communication of children's weight status and targeted counseling by pediatricians may change parental perceptions or child dietary and physical activity behaviors. The aim of this study was to determine whether accuracy of parental perception of children's weight status and reports of related behaviors changed following a brief pediatrics resident intervention.
Methods: Parents (N = 115) of children aged 4 to 12 years enrolled in Medicaid completed baseline questionnaires with providers about prior communication of weight status and/or body mass index (BMI), perceptions of their children's weight, and children's dietary and physical activity behaviors, and children were weighed and measured. Trained residents used a toolkit to communicate weight status to parents (via color-coded BMI charts) and counseled about mutually chosen healthy behaviors. Questionnaires were repeated at 1 and 3 months, and measurements were repeated for children with BMI > or =85%.
Results: At baseline, 42% of parents of overweight children believed their children were at healthy weight. Most (n = 96; 83%) parents completed 1-month questionnaires, and 56% completed 3-month follow-up questionnaires. Improvements in fruit and vegetable consumption, sweet drinks, unhealthy snacks, frequency of restaurant food, lower-fat milk, and screen time occurred among both overweight and healthy weight children. There were also increases in discussions with providers about weight/BMI and parental accuracy of overweight assessment.
Conclusions: Parent accuracy of weight status and short-term childhood dietary and physical activity behavior changes improved following resident pediatrician use of a toolkit to support communication of weight status and counseling. Further research needs to determine whether accurate parental perception motivates improved behavior change or healthier BMI trajectories.
2010 Academic Pediatric Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.