Parental Perceptions of Overweight Counseling in Primary Care

The growing prevalence of overweight among today's youth is an area of concern in public health. Prevention efforts to address child and adolescent overweight could include primary care services.

This article describes a study that explored parent perceptions of primary care services for children at risk for overweight and obesity. Participants were 446 parents of children between 2 and 12 years of age who had a body mass index (BMI) higher than the 85th percentile. Parents were interviewed by telephone and asked questions about satisfaction with care, receipt of nutrition and physical activity counseling, and quality of counseling.

Key Findings:

  • In adjusted multivariate analyses, overweight parents with children whose BMI was between the 85th to 95th percentiles were more likely to report the receipt of infrequent nutrition and physical activity advice and rate the advice received as poor or fair as compared to parents with children with BMI in the 95th percentile.
  • African-American, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian parents were more likely than White parents to rate the quality of nutrition and physical activity advice as poor or fair.
  • Although 98 percent of parents were at least satisfied with the pediatric care they received, between 22 to 23 percent of parents reported their clinician did not spend enough time discussing nutrition or physical activity.

Primary care services could serve alongside other strategies, such as reducing television viewing, in prevention efforts targeted at child overweight and obesity.