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Paediatr Nurs. 2008 May;20(4):14-8.

Promoting healthy eating: the role of pre-operative assessment.

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Paediatric Department, The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust.



The recent significant rise in childhood obesity requires a commitment from all healthcare professionals to promote healthy eating and exercise when working with children. The aim of this project was to identify the number of children attending pre-operative assessment who were overweight or obese, and to offer support and advice to these children and their families. This was achieved by establishing a working group to develop a tool to identify the number of children presenting as overweight or obese at pre-operative assessment, and to produce a nutritional support package that follows locally agreed guidelines for children whose body mass index (BMI) falls outside the normal range for their age.


Four hundred and ninety children aged two to 17 years were assessed within a 12-month period. Two per cent of the children had a BMI below the 2nd centile and 22 per cent were overweight, of whom 10 per cent were identified as obese. Forty seven per cent of the children identified as obese accepted the offer of a referral to the dietician.


This project supports the need for healthcare professionals to address the problem of obesity at every opportunity. Those at risk can be identified through comprehensive pre-operative assessment by appropriately trained staff. All children should have their height, weight and BMI recorded when they attend the hospital. Regular audit will identify trends in obesity and action taken to comply with government's targets to halt childhood obesity by 2010.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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