Today, the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity has released its recommendations and report. Of course, it needs a roadmap: recommendations without funding or teeth just set the agenda. But for doctors, hospitals and insurers, the assignments are clear.
a. calculate BMI, beginning at age 2
b. tell parents how to keep kids slim (this is worth a lot, as most MDs are frustrated and feel ineffective)
c. prescribe, on a Rx pad, healthy active living
*Insurance should cover assessing, preventing and treating overweight and obese kids.
*Medical schools, associations and health care systems should train and teach pediatric obesity prevention and treatment.
How will this work? The NCQA, which monitors quality for health care plans using a tool called HEDIS, will track rates of BMI assessment, nutrition and physical activity counseling. And payment dollars *may* follow. What a big If!
Childhood obesity increased by 10% between 2003 and 2007. 16.4% of U.S. kids are obese and 31.6% overweight.
The incentives have been not to write recipes on prescription slips, or prescribe free play. That takes training and time which most health providers don’t have and don’t get paid for.
But physicians and hospitals are no different than other workers: they do more of what they are paid and trained to do. Let’s move!