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How can we help families help their children engage in a healthy lifestyle as they grow? Given our nation’s high rates of childhood overweight and obesity, many families and their pediatricians struggle with how best to help children grow while maintaining a healthy weight.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that the first step for pediatricians is to help families establish healthy habits related to eating and how much they move.

Already pressed for time to discuss many different issues with families, pediatricians are faced with the challenge of helping families with all of their needs during their clinic visits. In order to change dietary and activity behaviors, families need information and personalized support over time as they try new things and have additional questions.

What we do  WHAT WE DO
Recognizing the need to find a new way to help families make healthy changes, Dr. Lori Pbert and her team developed and piloted the FitlineTM telephone counseling program for parents.  During office visits, pediatricians implement the Let’s Go 5-2-1-0 intervention to assess and document the child's body mass index (BMI), review a healthy habits screener, and provide feedback and brief advice regarding healthy eating and activity.  Pediatricians then refer interested families of children who are overweight or obese to FitlineTM, where trained nutritionists call the families to set up weekly telephone calls to provide information and coaching tailored to the family’s unique needs.

Now that the pilot project is complete and has found the FitlineTM program to be promising in helping reduce BMI in children, Dr. Pbert and her team are now funded by the National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to fully test the program.  Dr. Pbert and her team will enroll 512 children ages 8 to 12 with overweight and obesity and their families from 16 pediatric practices into the randomized clinical trial.  All practices will receive training in implementing the Let’s Go 5-2-1-0 intervention and will refer their families into a support program.  In half of the practices the pediatricians will refer their families into the FitlineTM telephone coaching program along with a family workbook of informational materials. Pediatricians in the other 8 practices will refer their families into the FitlineTM family workbook program, which will send the same family workbook of informational materials to parents in weekly mailings. The goal for both programs is to improve diet and physical activity and reduce BMI. 

Our future OUR FUTURE
If the FitlineTM coaching program is found to be effective and cost-effective, it will provide an innovative model which can be shared with other pediatric practices nationwide, contributing significantly to the development of new standards for weight management care in pediatric practice.