Group calls for greater physician involvement in fight against childhood obesity

The prevalence of childhood obesity is growing at a rapid rate. This is leading to a sharp increase in type 2 diabetes cases among adolescents, as well as in the general public. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that half of all U.S. adults will have diabetes by the year 2020.

In order to address the situation, experts are calling on primary care physicians to play a larger role in fighting the childhood obesity epidemic. These professionals are uniquely positioned to offer guidance at a stage in their patients' lives when it may be able to help them head off the condition entirely.

However, a recent panel discussion among obesity and diabetes experts titled New Ways to Overcome Old Barriers: Engaging Pediatricians and Primary Care Physicians in Obesity Prevention and Intervention identified several problems that physicians face when treating childhood obesity.

Among the challenges were inadequate reimbursement for childhood obesity management and prevention; lack of office time to interact with and educate patients; lack of financial resources to support family education and counseling; and a culture that encourages poor nutrition, overeating and a sedentary lifestyle.

"Unless government and insurance reimburses for primary care prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, it is not going to happen in a comprehensive way," said David Ludwig, a physician on the panel.