There is now enough evidence to recommend screening for overweight and obesity in children aged 6 years and older and enough evidence backing the efficacy of behavioral interventions of at least moderate intensity, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (See story.)
Will this recommendation pack a big enough punch to kick-start a movement toward more screening and greater acceptance and awareness of the efficacy of behavioral interventions? It looks like it will be an uphill battle, if a new survey of members of the American Academy of Pediatrics gives a true indication.
The survey of 677 primary care clinicians in active practice revealed that only 52% assess BMI percentile for children older than 2 years and only 23% said they believe that there are good treatment strategies for overweight. Less than half said they are able to make referrals to interventional programs.
It also was notable that clinicians who are familiar with American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on obesity screening and treatment were more likely to use BMI percentiles in their care and more likely to feel prepared to counsel patients.
Dr. Ned Calonge, the chair of the USPSTF, recognized that many clinicians won’t be able to offer referrals to weight management centers, but he said with greater recognition of the value of screening and the efficacy of treatment, greater availability of referral services and insurance coverage will hopefully follow. That will be key because 69% of providers in the survey said that insurance does not cover weight management programs, and only 15% reported that they can bill for overweight counseling and treatment separate from well-child visits.
Jeff Evans (@jeffaevans on Twitter)