Let's move our next generation of patients toward healthy behaviors
Phyllis A Nsiah-Kumi1,2, Lydia Y Kang1, Jennifer R Parker1,2
1General Internal Medicine, 2Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Program, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA
Abstract: Health care professionals in all disciplines who care for adults have the opportunity to improve the health of the next generation. The prevalence of overweight and obesity continues to rise in children and adults around the world. As providers caring for adults, our primary goal is to address the health needs of our patients. However, it is important to recognize that counseling our patients who have children can lead them to adopt model behaviors that will be imitated by their children (and therefore improve the weight status and reduce health risks for their children). Additionally, many patients are more motivated to adopt behavior changes for the sake of their children than for their own health. All of 2012's 11-year-old children may be our adult patients in 10 years – especially if they have already developed weight-related health problems. Anything we do to address childhood obesity is an investment in the health of our patient panels, both now and in the future. While counseling may feel futile at times, there is strong evidence for the power of counseling to shape patient behavior. Counseling adult patients about healthy behaviors will benefit not only our patients today but our patients in the future as well.
Keywords: obesity, counseling, provider, lifestyle change, parental modeling, self-efficacy
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