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Not Enough Pediatricians Providing Lifestyle Counseling

Last Updated: June 04, 2012.

Less than half of adolescents are advised by their pediatric health care provider to eat healthily and exercise more, but rates of counseling are higher among obese teens, according to a study published online June 4 in Pediatrics.

MONDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- Less than half of adolescents are advised by their pediatric health care provider to eat healthily and exercise more, but rates of counseling are higher among obese teens, according to a study published online June 4 in Pediatrics.

Lan Liang, Ph.D., from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Rockville, Md., and colleagues analyzed data from adolescents ages 11 to 17 years (6,911 girls and 6,970 boys) who participated in the 2001 to 2007 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and reported having at least one visit to a health provider in the previous 12 months.

The researchers found that 47 percent of girls and 44 percent of boys were advised by a health provider to eat healthily, and 36 percent of boys and girls were advised to exercise more. Obese boys and girls were both significantly more likely to be advised to eat healthily (odds ratio [OR], 2.10 and 1.70, respectively) and exercise more (OR, 2.37 and 1.90, respectively) than were adolescents of normal weight. Overweight boys and girls were counseled at a much lower rate than obese teens. Teens living in the northeast, from higher-income households, with parents who had at least some college education, or who had a usual source of medical care were more likely to receive diet and exercise advice.

"Greater efforts should be made to incorporate guidelines on childhood obesity screening and counseling into clinical practice," the authors write.

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