This study states Primary care physicians (PCPs) are in a critical position for identifying, preventing and treating childhood obesity. However, a one-size-fits-all approach does not exist for having conversations about weight with families. A better understanding of how PCPs can address paediatric patients’ weight concerns is needed in order to develop effective guidelines and training.

To describe PCPs preferences and behaviours regarding weight-related conversations with paediatric patients’ and their families. Twenty PCPs affiliated with the University of Minnesota, USA, were recruited to participate in semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. PCP’s identified well-child visits as the most appropriate time for weight-related discussions with families. Physicians described what approaches/elements they perceived to work best during conversations: collaboration, empathy, health-focused and objective measures.

Overall, PCPs were more comfortable with weight-related discussions during annual well-child visits and rarely initiated them during an acute visit or the first encounter with a patient. Objective measures, such as growth charts, were often utilized to start discussions. Considering a large proportion of well-child visits are missed, alternative opportunities to have discussions about healthy lifestyle behaviours should be explored. The integral role PCPs play in paediatric obesity warrants further research.

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