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Child Obes. 2013 Jun;9(3):216-22. doi: 10.1089/chi.2012.0100. Epub 2013 Apr 30.

Children's report of lifestyle counseling differs by BMI status.

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Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.



This study examined whether children's report of receiving weight, nutrition, and physical activity counseling from their clinicians differs by their BMI status and identified factors associated with higher rates of counseling.


Physical assessments and health surveys were collected from a school-based sample of 959 5(th) and 6(th) grade students. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to examine how lifestyle counseling differs by BMI status, adjusting for race, gender, socioeconomic status, co-morbidities, site of care provider, and age.


Healthy weight children reported receiving the least amount of lifestyle counseling, with nearly one-quarter reporting none at all. Overweight children were no more likely than their healthy weight peers to report receiving weight and nutrition counseling. As expected, obese children were approximately two times more likely to report being counseled on their weight, nutrition, or physical activity as compared to healthy weight children (all p values at least <0.01). However, 23.9% of obese children reported receiving no counseling about their weight. After adjusting for BMI and all other confounding factors, for each lifestyle topic, Hispanics were at least 1.84 times more likely than whites to report being counseled (all p values at least <0.05). Blacks were at least 1.38 times more likely than whites to report being counseled (all p values at least <0.05). Girls were at least 1.38 times more likely than boys to report being counseled (all p values at least <0.05).


Although lifestyle counseling is universally recommended, many children report not receiving counseling. Despite clinical indications for more intensive counseling, overweight children report similar counseling rates as their healthy weight peers. Furthermore, a substantial proportion of obese children report not receiving lifestyle counseling. Future research should examine how lifestyle counseling can more effectively reach all children.

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