Despite the well-documented rise in pediatric obesity, University of California, San Francisco researchers report in Pediatrics that overweight teenagers do not appear to be receiving the preventive care they need.

Following a survey from 2003 to 2007 of 9,220 adolescents aged 12 to 17 who were asked if they received screening for nutrition, physical activity, and emotional distress, the researchers found that obese teens received more screening than normal-weight peers, but overweight teens did not.

Obese participants in the survey were 40% more likely than normal-weight peers to report undergoing screening of their physical activity and were 60% more likely to be screened for nutrition. Those who were overweight but not obese did not receive more screening than normal-weight teens for physical activity or nutrition in any of the survey years. Screening rates for physical activity were 75.5% for obese participants, 68.8% for overweight participants, and 68.6% for normal-weight participants; corresponding rates for nutrition were 77.6%, 69.7%, and 66.2%, respectively.

Over the 4 years of the study, screening appeared to decline overall. In fact, odds for screening dropped by half for both physical activity and nutrition and by 30% for emotional distress, even after adjusting for factors related to screening.

Physician’s Weekly wants to know…

  • Do you believe short office visit times, low reimbursement, and/or a lack of local resources for referring patients for pediatric weight management play a role in the level of screenings?
  • How could screening rates for overweight children can be improved?