Overweight teens less likely to get doctor weight talk
July 18th, 2011
12:27 PM ET

Overweight teens less likely to get doctor weight talk

Government advisory panels today say doctors should talk to their teen patients about weight, about how active they are, their emotions and what they’re eating. But a study in the current issue of Pediatrics found that wasn’t happening for the group that perhaps could have benefited from it most.

Teens who were already obese were more likely than normal-weight teens to receive the screenings. But those verging on obesity were not.

"The adolescents who are not yet obese, but are overweight, they're not getting that extra attention that they should be getting based on recommendations- that's an issue, that's a problem," said Dr. Carolyn Jasik, study author and assistant professor of pediatrics at University of California, San Francisco. She is also an adolescent obesity specialist.

"I think providers need to know that it's very important to target this middle group of overweight kids and make sure that they get attention when there are early warning signs," she added. "The problem is if you looked at a child who is overweight, you may not be able to tell by just looking at them that there's a concern for their health. You need to measure the weight and compare it to standards for their age."

Jasik is referring to the adolescent's BMI, or body mass index. Weight is considered normal if less than the 85th percentile. An overweight child is between the 85th and 94th percentiles, and an obese child is equal to or greater than the 95th percentile.

A previous, recent study found that only slightly over half of patients had their BMI calculated at the visit.

The current study included more than 9,000 adolescents, between the ages of 12 and 17. The self-reported information was gathered from young people in California, all of whom reported an examination within the last year. Participants included both males and females, and a variety of races and ethnicities.

They were asked whether they had talked with their physician about exercise, diet and emotions or moods.

The results showed a trend that screening rates for all areas dropped between 2003 and 2007.

Screenings for mood and emotional distress had the lowest reported rates. Less than a quarter of the adolescents said they talked to their physician about emotions during their last visit.

"Depression, anxiety, body image- those are major issues for overweight and obese kids... it's just a really big missed opportunity," Jasik said.

"Providers really need to be talking to kids about those things if they are overweight or obese..because often, [these things] are barriers to changing your health behaviors," she added.

Jasik had this advice for parents about what to ask the physician:

*Do I need to be concerned about my child's weight?

*Can you talk to us about healthy diet and activity?

*[Can you] help us find things in our community that will allow us to be more active and eat better?

She says that study didn’t determine why the teens were not getting the needed attention, but she speculated that it might be due to the time it takes for the physician to offer these services, proper reimbursement for them, and sufficient resources and programs for where to refer kids who need intervention.

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. amylynn


    The FDA must take responsibility for the increase in with the increase of food chemicals into the feed.

    Obesity is not the fault of the overweight person

    In fact, it is almost impossible to lose weight in the USA due to Food Chemicals.

    The food has been filled with food chemicals and this is proven by a European filmmaker. This is why people cannot lose weight

    A filmmaker has shown how to reverse weight gain with a diabetes diet for NON diabetics in 10 countries and the drug-makers hide the story

    The diet reverses the damage from Food chemicals and causes weight loss

    If you cannot lose weight it is not your fault

    just google SPIRITHAPPY.ORG

    July 18, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. fernace

    I must respectfully disagree, amylynn! While there are such things as hormone imbalance (thyroid), & chemically altered foods, the truth is that we eat too much & for the wrong reason( emotions instead of hunger) in our fair nation. Go to any resturant & 1 plate (portion) can easily feed 3 average size people! It is an ancient mindset that the richer you are, the fatter you are & vice versa! Despite our current financial woes, we're still a nation of plenty & it shows in our eating habits. In fact Americans throw out more food than many nations consume. Too many of us are gluttons & our health problems mirror that fact! It is up to the individual to do something about his/her personal problems, & it's up to parents to feed their kids healthy foods! Holding the food industry responsible is a cop out! Unless they are selling chickens mostly made of added products or putting toxic chemicals in our produce, what we put in our mouths is our own resposibility!!

    July 19, 2011 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. kristybrent19

    I get so many sample stuff for free its awesome. Actually it is not difficult to find them just search online for "123 Samples" It is the best way!

    July 19, 2011 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. tru

    There is truth to both amylynn and kristy. There are chemicals in theses foods that are causing us to still be hungry right after we consume them and I'm speaking mostly on fast foods. I agree that as Americans we do eat to much and one plate is suffice for two maybe three depending where you go. We waste too much food and it makes me insane! I will say that I raised my nine year old daughter to eat healthy because I am that way by nature. It must start some where. If you practice buying healthy foods; I believe it will be all they practice. Example I treat my daughter to fast food once a month; and she says to me;"mom do we have any left overs? Or can we go get some turkey bacon and make blt's? In all, it showed me that she enjoys healthy eating and that came with example. There isn't enough outdoor activity everything is DS games or internet and tv. I will not say all but I do agree that there should be more. I also don't think its a bad idea for Pediatricans to speak to there patients regarding their weight once they see a problem as this is apart of aiding in what's best for their patient. Depression will follow in many cases as weight is a huge and on going burden on America as a nation. Look at China they are well trained on physical and mental aspects. We order the greasy chinese food while they eat the pure white rice and veggies not to mention with chopsticks which controls their intake. The point is obesity is a problem whether it comes medically induced or simply from poor eating and lack thereof. We should look at these examples and grab a solution because depression will not be the primary agent any longer it will destroy our nation as a whole.

    July 19, 2011 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jennifer Munsie PhD

    Wanted to mention a doctor-patient communication study at Verilogue that I recently conducted examining how weight is brought up and dealt with during office visits. You’d be surprised to see how doctors struggle to have the conversation about weight regardless of the patient’s age. Weight is such an emotionally volatile issue because it is inextricably linked with who a person IS. Doctors are never sure how what they say is going to be received by patients; therefore, we often see physicians trying different tactics, not being consistent and failing to have robust conversations around weight, diet, and exercise. To address these issues and to overcome the emotional barrier that typically sidelines the conversations, physicians should attempt to understand the emotional and social influences on a patient by patient basis, to build a trusting relationship where patients have the opportunity to feel comfortable in talking about their struggle now and in the future. As an example for exercise, instead of asking “How many times a day do you exercise?” ask a teenage patient “What are some activities that you really enjoy?”

    July 19, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Linda

    Its the food industry thats hurting our teens, we should be educating us on how much sugar we eat each day I read this on http://manyrandomfacts.blogspot.com/search/label/Health that Large amounts of sugar weakens white blood cells and that it depresses the immune system. !

    July 21, 2011 at 11:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Vera

    The Breast Health and Healing Foundation believes that finding the causes of breast cancer will lead us to prevent this disease. We are trying to fund trials on Dr. Vincent Tuohy's breast cancer vaccine [Cleveland Clinic] which was completely effective at preventing breast cancer in mice that normally get this disease. It also slowed the growth of tumors in the control group of mice. BHHF is also trying to fund Dr. Beatriz Pogo's work on the human mammary tumor virus, which is present in approximately forty percent of all breast cancers! Please donate to BHHF! 40% of your money will go to FUND TUOHY'S VACCINE, 40% will go to FUND the POGO VIRUS, 10% will be spent on EDUCATING THE PUBLIC on BREAST CANCER PREVENTION & 10% will be used to offset administrative costs at BHHF. Send checks to: 36 Newark Avenue, Suite 130, Belleville, New Jersey 07109. Donations can be made via PayPal at http://www.breasthealthandhealing.org. BHHF is a tax-exempt non-profit.

    July 21, 2011 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. D

    Does the writer think that the girls in the picture are overweight?? Are you kidding me?

    July 27, 2011 at 05:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Disagree

    Recently I took my two boys in for their well check visits. My 7 year old ( who is by NO stretch of the imagination fat or overweight) is in 95% for height 93% for weight and after the Dr. did some calculations figured that his BMI was too high and he is over weight.????? Then my 13 year ( again NOT fat in any way) was 94% weight and 90% height again was told he is fat. Now she said this in front of them and proceeded to tell me we needed nutrition counseling! Both boys are involved with multiple sports ALL YEAR. And have a personal trainer!! My 13 has not hit puberty but is right on the edge everything is starting to happen. And she is looking at my boys (again NOT fat or overweight) and giving me a lecture about food. I do not buy soda, I do not feed them sweets! We are just tall people! Their father is 6'2, my dad is 6'4 and my brother is 6'6!! Shouldn't that be taken into account when a Dr. is talking to a patient????? My 13 year old left there very upset and has since refused food at times ( good food) because he feels like because the Dr. said he is fat he must be!! Thank GOD I did not have my 15 year old daughter with me who is a dancer because if she was grilled like my boys and I were I would be seriously concerned about causing an eating disorder!!! I understand the concern about our nation and the amount of overweight kids but give me a break ....when you are sitting there looking at a healthy kids they do not need to be made to feel bad about themselves because some numbers say they are fat when I have male and female family members over six foot in my family!!! Now I am dealing with a son who thinks he is fat and refuses to eat.....that's healthy!!! What that Dr. did was wrong and in poor judgement!

    July 27, 2011 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. serena

    Yeah what is with the picture here? Those girls are super skinny.

    August 1, 2011 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.