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Weight Assessment and Counseling for Nutrition and Physical Activity for Children/Adolescents

Measure Definition

The Weight Assessment and Counseling for Nutrition and Physical Activity for Children/Adolescents measure calculates the percentage of enrolled members between 3 and 17 years of age who had an outpatient visit with a PCP or OB/GYN and who had evidence of body mass index (BMI) percentile documentation, counseling for nutrition, and counseling for physical activity during the measurement year.

Importance

The emergence of obesity in children and adolescents has been one of the most important developments in pediatrics, and its rapidly increasing prevalence is one of the most challenging dilemmas pediatricians face today in the United States. In 1980, it was estimated that 6.9 percent of children ages 6 to 11 and 5 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 19 were obese. However, in the past 30 years the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents has increased sharply. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as of 2008, 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children ages 2 to 19 years were obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescence has almost tripled based on the 2007–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Also of great concern are children who are overweight and at risk for becoming obese. Overweight children and adolescents are more likely to become obese as adults.

Additionally, according to a study conducted by the CDC, it was reported that almost 25 percent of children ages 9 to 13 did not engage in any free-time physical activity. For young people in grades 9 through 12, the level of physical activity decreases drastically. Almost two-thirds of young people in grades 9 through 12 do not meet the recommended levels of physical activity and only 54 percent participate in physical education class at least once a week. Evidence has also shown that daily participation in physical education classes among high school students dropped from 42 percent in 1991 to 33 percent in 2005.

For these reasons, it is essential that children and adolescents in the United States receive adequate weight assessment and counseling for nutrition and physical activity. The first step involves screening for overweight and obesity in the physician’s office with the calculation of body mass index (BMI). With this tool physicians can estimate a child’s BMI percentile for age and gender. In addition, it has been found that BMI is a useful screening tool for assessing and tracking the degree of obesity among adolescents. To address the lack of physical activity and nutritional education among children and adolescents in the United States today, health care providers should promote regular exercise activity and healthy eating and assist parents in creating an environment that supports these healthy habits.

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Last modified on: 12/24/2013 9:30 AM