5 TIPS FOR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS

A family enjoying a healthy meal outdoors

As trusted health experts, your role as a healthcare provider puts you in an important position to influence the nutrition and physical activity choices of your patients and their families. During regular office visits, take the opportunity to talk about childhood obesity, its consequences, and steps patients can take now to improve their health outcomes down the road. Here are some tips on where to start.

Tip 1

Track BMI during patient visits

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Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple calculation that provides a quick snapshot of a patient’s overall health. During patient visits, take a minute to calculate and track their BMI, and then discuss it with the patient and their families. Also, talk about the health impacts that result from high BMI levels – diabetes, heart disease, etc – and discuss ways to work on improving nutrition and physical activity to get their BMI down to a healthier range.

Tip 2

Talk to families about healthy eating

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Take a few minutes with your patients and families to talk about the benefits of healthy eating.  Even making changes as simple as adopting “Meatless Mondays,” cutting back on fried foods, or replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water or low-fat milk can make a huge difference for their health and decrease chances of obesity, diabetes and other complications related to poor nutrition. Encourage families to make goals and track nutrition habits (as well as screen time and physical activity) to see how they are progressing on the goals and improving their overall health.

Tip 3

Encourage breastfeeding

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Breast milk is the best nutritional choice for babies due to its wide range of health benefits, including strengthening the baby’s immune system and protecting the baby from health problems such as obesity, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, ear infections, allergies, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Studies have found a 15 to 30 percent decrease in adolescent and adult obesity among breastfed versus non-breastfed infants.

Talk to new mothers about breastfeeding benefits and recommendations – the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and then breastfeeding along with the introduction of complimentary foods until at least 12 months.

Tip 4

Be a community leader

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As a trusted member of your community, your voice is heard. Becoming involved with community coalitions, speaking at meetings or training seminars, or lending your support to health initiatives can make a big difference. Advocate on behalf of your patients and their families for improved access to healthy foods and recreational opportunities, for higher nutritional standards in schools and public venues, and for more biking- and walking-friendly transportation plans.

You already know that being healthy extends far beyond the walls of your office. Advocating for community-wide improvements will lead to better health outcomes for your patients, which will be nice to see back in your office.

Tip 5

Promote the Dish+Dash

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The Dish+Dash is a great way for families to receive, regular reminders of fun and easy ways to improve the health of their families via email. Tips include fun activities, healthy recipes, and reminders about upcoming community events.

Starting on the path toward improving health can be overwhelming for a family. Losing weight, being more active, changing old habits – these things don’t just change overnight. And that’s OK. Help your patients and their families focus on taking small steps each day, and before long, they’ll be on their way to better health.

Sign up for the Dish+Dash here.

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