• Poster
  • March 1, 2014

Assessment and Treatment of Obesity in Children 5 Years Old and Under

Presented at the Society for Pediatric Psychology, March 2014

Melissa Santos, PhD, Connecticut Children's Medical Center
Amy Baughcum, PhD, Nationwide Children's Hospital
Adelle Cadieux, PsyD, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital
Laura Shaffer, PhD, University of Louisville
Elizabeth Getzoff Testa, PhD, Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital
Wendy Ward, PhD, University of Arkansas

The obesity epidemic is affecting children at younger ages resulting in significant medical and psychosocial sequelae. Interprofessional treatment is recommended; however, primary care providers may not know where to turn for assistance due to the limited research available on effective assessment and treatment strategies within this early childhood population.

Psychologists, as part of an interprofessional workgroup in Children's Hospital Association's FOCUS on a Fitter Future, developed recommendations based on a review of the literature and clinical practices at various institutions. These recommendations are designed as a physician's guide on the assessment and treatment of young children with excessive weight gain, focusing on when to make referrals to outside specialists, including psychologists.

General guidelines are provided for children 5 years old and under with specific guidelines provided for infants and toddlers (age 0-2) and preschoolers (ages 3-5). Areas of assessment include: feeding practices, parenting skills, child behaviors, child growth/development and environment. Difficulties in an assessment area are linked with the appropriate referral or treatment source including: psychology, occupational therapy, nutrition, social work, physical therapy/exercise physiology, speech therapy, and other medical specialties.

This framework can assist primary care providers in assessing and discussing treatment options earlier to improve the health and well-being of young children with obesity. In addition, this framework demonstrates the wide use of psychology in the interprofessional treatment of childhood obesity and can be used as a tool in collaborative practice with pediatricians.