Sunday, August 27, 2017

Screening for Childhood Obesity

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an organization consisting of experts in primary care who review health information. And based on their reviews, the task force makes recommendations for clinical preventive services. The organization has recommended childhood obesity screening as follows:

"The USPSTF recommends that clinicians screen for obesity in children and adolescents 6 years and older and offer or refer them to comprehensive, intensive behavioral interventions to promote improvements in weight status."

Childhood obesity continues to receive a lot of attention. This is because reducing childhood obesity will lower the number of adults who experience obesity, since obesity in childhood increases the risk of obesity in adulthood. Further, obesity often leads to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, some forms of cancer, and other illnesses.

Therefore, it makes sense to screen a child for obesity, because signs of adult obesity may appear early in life. And screening for obesity can arm a provider with information that can be useful in guiding the provider. The provider can use the information to counsel parents on what actions to take to reduce the risk of their child experiencing obesity later in life.

The parents can take appropriate actions to motivate their children to follow a healthy diet and increase physical activity. This might include many new and different types of diets and physical activities. For example, past research has shown that some video games might actually provide an avenue for kids to get more exercise. And there may be specific diets that can entice children to be more inclined to engage in health eating.

At any rate, the USPSTF's recommendation to screen children for obesity can be an important step in the fight against childhood obesity. Not just because of the recommendation, but because of the rating given to the screening recommendation.

The task force gives grades of A, B, C, D, and I to its recommendations. Recommended clinical activities given a grade A or B are required to be covered by insurance companies as directed by the Affordable Care Act. The task force gave a grade of B to the childhood obesity screening recommendation, therefore the screening should be covered. Further, because of the "B" rating, under the USPSTF guidelines, the patient is not required to pay any percentage of the cost of the treatment.

In a nut shell, screening children for obesity will benefit both the children and the provider. The screening will benefit the children because the screening will increase the children's chances of improved health. And screening will benefit the provider because he or she will know that appropriate actions are being taken to improve the current and future health of the children.

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