By Claudia Sussdorf, MD
Please briefly summarize your project.
We are implementing a new way of doing our physicals at UVA. At each child’s well visit appointment, we will discuss proper nutrition and provide the family with a handout of what we consider age-appropriate nutrition.
Our nutrition fact sheets will span six months to 18 years. For every visit, the child will get a new nutrition fact sheet with new information. By the time the child turns 18, they will have about 10 fact sheets.
This is a brand new concept here at UVA. Before, a well visit focused on the family giving a dietary history and we haven’t had anything for them to take home. We would discuss how they were feeding their child. But depending on how busy the pediatrician was, they didn’t always have the time to counsel the family on what the child SHOULD be eating. The fact sheet will make it easier; Instead of just diagnosing a child that is obese, we are going to give concrete recommendations.
What made you decide to begin this project?
We started this about project about six months ago. I have been a clinician for 25 years and for 25 years, I’ve felt guilty that I didn’t have anything to give these families. I felt badly that I was making the diagnosis, but that wasn’t an answer to the problem. I wasn’t doing my part.
Why is it important to you to continue your work?
Right now, one in three children are overweight – this is a national epidemic. We need to address the issue in the well child visits. This is not just a diagnosis – this is preventative medicine.
What do you feel is the most exciting part of your project?
I think the most exciting part will be when we actually get to talk to the parents and hand them this information. I hope it will make a difference in their lives. Even if we can make a very small difference, that will be huge.
Right now, we have five handouts ready to go. We are working with a graphic designer to make the fact sheets child friendly. Each age group will have a specific look and special artwork. In three to six months, we will start handing them out. We will start at all general well child pediatric divisions. (Orange Pediatrics, North Ridge Pediatrics, and The Battle Building.) We are hoping to implement nutrition guides across the board soon.
What have you learned from this project?
I’ve learned how enthusiastic people are about this topic and that they want to help with weight control. I’ve worked with nutrition, attendings, and residents – there is so much interest. Globally at UVA, everyone accepts that obesity is a huge problem – probably the biggest problem that the Pediatrics department is facing.
Childhood obesity can lead to high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes and can set these children up for a future of adult heart disease. Aggressive management is really important throughout childhood to prevent lifelong cardiac problems. Research shows that fat babies can go on to be fat adults. We want to establish healthy eating and healthy food choices from six months into adulthood. We want to start in the early years and make a difference. That’s our goal.
Check out a sample Nutrition Fact Sheet here.
Want to provide nutrition fact sheets for your patients? For more information, please contact Dr. Claudia Sussdorf at 434.924.5921 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed Under: Features