Pediatric Obesity in Primary Practice

A Review of the Literature

Jessica Durbin; Mitzi Baguioro; Donita Jones


Pediatr Nurs. 2018;44(4):202-206. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Childhood obesity is an epidemic, resulting in physiological and psychological infirmities. Primary care providers (PCPs) can engage in preventing obesity by instilling positive healthy behaviors early in children's lives. Providing support and evidencebased interventions can enable children to avoid co-morbidities of obesity, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression. Relevant literature was retrieved from The Cochrane Library, CINAHL, PubMed, Medline, Sport Discus, and Health Source Nursing Academic Edition from January 2012 through February 2017 by using key words "child obesity," "physical activity," "diet," and "body mass index." Four studies are reviewed: 1) a randomized control trial on the effects of a 10-week FATmax exercise training of obese 8- to 10-year-old boys, 2) a cross-sectional study on the correlation of physical activities and sedentary behavior to body mass index (BMI) and obesity rates among 6,539 children 9 to 11 years of age, 3) a randomized study on the effects of a walking program on the BMI of children ages 6 to 11 years, and 4) a systematic review on the efficacy of school-based dietary behavior and physical activity in children and adolescents ages 6 to 18 years. Outcomes from all four studies revealed a reduction in obesity when adequate physical activity and balanced meals were incorporated during childhood. Integrating evidence-based findings into practice can foster health and wellness of children, and reduce unnecessary healthcare costs attributed to obesity.


Childhood obesity in the United States has more than tripled in the last four decades. Statistics show that 1 in 5 school-aged children (ages 6 to 19) are obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2017). The CDC uses the body mass index (BMI) at greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex to define obesity. Research shows that a high BMI in children can be an indicator of high body fat (CDC, 2017). Obesity-related diseases, such as type II diabetes, kidney disease, and hypertension, which are common problems in adults, are now pediatric concerns as well (Fung, 2016). The economic impact on healthcare costs of childhood obesity-related illnesses is estimated at $14 billion per year (National League of Cities [NLC], 2017). Medical expenses from complications and co-morbidities of obesity are foreseen to rise steeply because obese children today might plausibly become obese adults. The obesity epidemic is climbing not only in the United States, but also in other countries (World Health Organization [WHO], 2017). Primary care providers (PCPs) knowledgeable of evidencebased management approaches to prevent obesity can empower parents and caregivers to enhance the physiological and psychological health of children at a young age, thereby positively affecting their lives as adults. This can correct healthcare disparities, avoid a lifelong state of sickness, and contain healthcare costs.