Childhood Obesity: An Evidence-Based Approach to Family-Centered Advice and Support

Tara K. Kaufman, Brian A. Lynch, John M. Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The prevalence of childhood obesity continues to rise despite decades of clinical and public health efforts. Early identification of children at risk of developing obesity is essential using newer electronic health systems, which move beyond traditional growth charts to provide a wealth of information about body mass index and other relevant parameters such as social determinants of health and comorbid conditions. For children who already have obesity, there are several evidence-based strategies health care providers can use as they work with patients and families to mitigate the effects. First and foremost, providers should address the issue; unfortunately, weight is often not discussed in clinical practice. In addressing the issue, providers should support families through effective, positive relationships. Providers must be aware of their biases; their language should be appropriate and nonstigmatizing. Helpful interventions should focus on behavior, not weight, health, or appearance. Motivational interviewing may be used to promote healthful behaviors: supportive parenting, regular exercise, healthful food choices, minimal screen time, and optimal sleep. There is limited evidence for the efficacy of specific weight loss diets. Both medication and bariatric surgery are indicated for select adolescents who have severe disease unresponsive to behavioral management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
StatePublished - 2020


  • children
  • community health
  • health promotion
  • lifestyle change
  • obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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