By Megan M. Krischke, contributor October 26, 2012 -
The rate of childhood obesity in the United States has more than tripled over the past 30 years. Today, more than 1 in 3 children and adolescents are either overweight or obese, putting them at risk for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. Because of the respect and trust nurses have from patients and society as a whole, they are in a position to powerfully influence factors contributing to childhood obesity, on both individual and systemic levels.
Tara Arnold, RN, BSN, CPN, an in-patient pediatric nurse at Providence Portland Medical Center, in Portland, Ore., is fighting childhood obesity on many levels. Within the hospital she has done presentations to help nurses assess pediatric patients and has trained staff on scripting for discussing weight-related matters with patients. She also takes healthy food demonstrations into the community, and was featured on a local news segment offering education about the amount of sugar in soda and flavored milk. In addition, she is currently running for Mrs. Oregon on a pediatric-obesity prevention and family-health promotion platform.
“Talking about weight is a very sensitive issue and we don’t want to lose trust with our patients. It has even been shown that people who feel judged about their weight are more likely to add extra pounds,” she stated. “We use a caring approach in scripting which invites patients and families to share their concerns with us. People need to be ready for and desiring change in order for change to occur. This approach helps us to know what help a family is truly seeking.” Some of the questions nurses at Providence ask patients and families are:
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