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Ten Reasons Why Pediatricians Should Promote Nutrition

This post is inspired by a recent conversation I had with a mom whose young child was diagnosed as obese. Understandably, she was frustrated that this situation wasn’t brought to her attention by her pediatrician earlier, so that she could get the help she needed. It got me thinking about the role we all play in helping kids be as healthy as they can be–parents, pediatricians, and registered dietitians.

doctor holding fruit

You know how I feel about kids and nutrition and the present state of health concerns for our nation’s children. If not, read What Will it Take to Get America’s Kids to Eat Right?

This post is a call to action, and is targeted at the pediatrician (and indirectly, the parent). For more on the role of the parent and nutrition, check out Healthy Weight is Up to You.

Also, I am going to channel David Letterman (a fellow Hoosier) and do a Top Ten List…just for fun.

Pediatricians are an important gatekeeper for nutrition guidance and intervention. And there’s no getting around that. They are influential and have the power to intervene and help families get on track with nutrition.

10 Reasons Pediatricians Should Promote Nutrition

10. Nutrition concerns are top of mind for many parents. From simple questions to complex issues, nutrition concerns and kids go hand-in-hand.

9. Many parents know a little bit about nutrition and want more information—credible information. And some parents are simply confused and on the wrong track.

8. Knowing what to expect with nutrition is key to preventing childhood nutrition challenges, such as obesity, poor weight gain and picky eating.

7. Parents are saturated with nutrition information from many sources and this can be confusing and misleading.

6. Parents are making nutrition mistakes that can be prevented with proper information and guidance.

5. One in three of America’s kids are overweight or obese. Preventing this situation involves making an early effort to educate families on nutrition and healthy lifestyle behaviors and to intervene with tailored treatment modes, if necessary.

4. Pediatricians can’t do it alone! Parents need credible resources and pediatricians can direct them to these resources. Registered dietitians can partner with pediatricians to make this happen.

3.  Time is short. With limited time to spend with families, nutrition information is on a first-asked, first-answered basis (and usually there is another pressing issue at hand). Pediatrician offices can circumvent this by providing credible print information, resources and website education for families.

2. Pediatricians are a family’s first resource for nutrition information. This presents a great opportunity and responsibility for the pediatrician.

1. Pediatricians have the power to influence the nutrition problems of American children. Providing early guidance, referring out to nutrition experts and making nutrition information accessible to their patients are all efforts that can elevate the role of nutrition in childhood and influence child health.

Kudos to all the pediatricians out there who DO step up for nutrition! How do you make nutrition a priority with your patients?

And parents, don’t be afraid to let your pediatrician in on your nutrition worries–and your challenges with your kids. Feeding kids and childhood nutrition in today’s America is harder than ever–of course you have concerns!

What are you looking for when it comes to getting advice from your pediatrician about nutrition?

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  1. You’re so right. A recent study published indicated that only 27% of medical schools (or around there) across America are meeting the required nutrition curricula–leaving many physicians underprepared and lacking in essential basic knowledge about nutrition.

  2. Kristi, you bring up a good point, and that is that all parents have a different perspective. Some are concerned and some are just not paying that much attention–a full gamut of awareness. But this is where pediatricians can be so powerful–to bring about awareness.

  3. This is so right on! Thank you for writing this. I especially like #3. I believe pediatricians should be more forthright with their information, rather than waiting for parents to ask. If a child appears overweight, the doc should feel comfortable providing nutrition information before the problem gets out of hand- this should be part of the standard visit. By providing credible print information, topics can be covered in a non-threatening manner and parents will leave armored with the info they need to provide for their children.

  4. It’d be pretty cool if Pediatricians had dietitians in their practice — there are so many questions regarding nutrition as children grow from baby to toddler to adolescent to teen.

  5. I do agree with this post. However, I think a lot of parents need to be more concerned their kids’ health and well being from the start before there’s a problem. I realize we probably can’t prevent everything, but it seems like a lot of parents really don’t care what their children are doing or eating. Then when the doctor tells them there’s a problem, they seem shocked. Maybe if parents pay a little more attention to their children ie.) the kinds of food/junk going into their bodies, they might not be so shocked when they take the children to the doctor. We can’t just bring these little babies into the world and let them raise themselves or rely on the rest of the world to do it for us.

  6. The challenge, of course, is seeing to it that pediatricians receive the proper training to offer the best nutrition advice. This varies tremendously from residency to residency and represents one of the postgraduate education’s real shortcomings.