The Childhood Obesity Talk

Mother and Daughter

When journalist Helena Oliviero wondered how parents communicate with their children about weight issues, she very sensibly personalized the topic by interviewing someone who would know. This was a mother, Virginia Smith, who had previously had initiated “the talk” with her daughter when the girl was 11 years old. Oliviero writes:

Since that conversation about two years ago, Smith and her daughter, now 13, have adopted a healthy lifestyle overhaul. They started with drinking water instead of soda and eating more fruits and vegetables. They now often break out into 15-minute dance sessions at home.

Sounds great! How did Ms. Smith do it? What did she say? First, the reporter emphasizes, the conversation was not focused on weight, but on health. She quotes Ms. Smith:

I talked about being healthy and about making changes we could do as a family. I told her I want her to live a long, happy, healthy life.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta started a program designed to facilitate more talks of this kind, between concerned parents and children who seem to be wandering onto the childhood obesity path. The result is “Welcome to the Talk,” a section of the Strong4Life website replete with tips for moms and dads. To make thing even easier, “Welcome to the Talk” is broken down into several steps:

Why Now?
A Different Kind of Talk
Gearing Up
More Gearing Up
Time for the Talk
Tips for the Talk
More Talks

Equally as significant is the CME (Continuing Medical Education) program for pediatricians and other doctors who must address childhood obesity.  The program’s description says:

Recognizing that providers can be restricted by time limitations, the counseling techniques we’ve designed can easily be incorporated into short well child visits… We created a toolkit that supports the conversation healthcare providers have with families. It promotes screening, generates awareness for BMI measurement, assesses family motivation to change, and provides guidance to families incorporating healthy choices into their lives. This multi-faceted approach equips providers with the necessary tools and resources to educated and influence patients/families to choose healthy lifestyles, and prevent and reduce childhood obesity.

Additionally, and more on the hard-science side, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta offers another course that is good for continuing education credit for physicians, Pediatric Endocrinology, on how to evaluate and manage insulin resistance and related conditions such as pre-diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and hyperlipidemia.

Childhood Obesity News has asked the question, “Do some doctors make lame excuses for childhood obesity?” With programs like this readily available, there are fewer available rationalizations for not being aware. Education is available to prepare any physician to be ready to jump in and have “the talk” with parents who need to have “the talk” with their kids.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Hospital offers help for ‘The Talk’ about childhood obesity,”, 09/05/12
Source: “Welcome to the Talk,”
Source: “CME Opportunities,”
Image by Paul.

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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