Adolescent Obesity Treatment in Primary Care

Adolescent obesity is regarded as a serious health concern that has to be addressed in both school-based and clinical settings. The rate of overweight school-aged children and youth has reached approximately 30% in the past 30 years (Wright, Giger, Norris, & Suro, 2013). Although the growth was not significant in the 2000-2010s, almost one-third of American adolescents are overweight or obese. It is also necessary to note that some cultural groups and underprivileged populations are specifically prone to developing this chronic condition (Arcan et al., 2014). Healthcare professionals try to address this problem and provide their recommendations as to appropriate diets and lifestyles. However, these efforts are often sporadic and insufficient, which is persistent in rural areas (Findholt, Davis, & Michael, 2013). Physicians and nurses should be actively involved in the process by implementing a wide-scale program implying certain counseling to all adolescents with objectively reported obesity. This report includes a brief description of the change needed to enable healthcare professionals to help obese minority adolescents shape their lifestyles.

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Synthesized Review

Healthcare practitioners in the primary care setting can help obese adolescents shape their lifestyles and improve the quality of their life (Wadden et al., 2013). Numerous interventions have been developed and implemented to address the problem, and the majority of these projects have proved to be effective (Findholt et al., 2013; Wadden et al., 2013; Wright et al., 2013). Nevertheless, standard procedures do not involve sufficient counseling of adolescent patients who have weight-related issues (Findholt et al., 2013). Moreover, the implementation of interventions can also be associated with various challenges that can have an adverse impact on their outcomes (Cui, Seburg, Sherwood, Faith, & Ward, 2015). Findholt et al. (2013) report that the most common obstacles to the provision of counseling and treatment include the lack of training, workload, the lack of resources, and inadequate reimbursement. The review involves relevant studies that involved large samples.

Description of the Case

In order to improve healthcare services, it is necessary to incorporate counseling into care provided to patients with obesity. The population in question is minority adolescents who are specifically vulnerable to weight-related health issues. As mentioned above, healthcare practitioners face certain challenges when implementing interventions, as well as providing standardized care (Findholt et al., 2013). The medical staff has limited time to counsel patients, and resources are also scarce. Importantly, Findholt et al. (2013) note that there is a lack of understanding and standards of excessive weight, which makes it difficult to address patients’ needs.

Possible Solution

Counseling incorporated into care provided to adolescents can be the key to addressing the problem of obesity among the youth. The change should involve such areas as staff training, reimbursement, funding, and resources. Healthcare professionals should be trained to identify the health issue and give recommendations concerning lifestyle changes to patients. The availability of free online sources related to weight management can minimize the costs of such innovation. Furthermore, the use of telemedicine and health software can be the platform for medical supervision and constant encouragement.

Wadden et al. (2013) claim that the frequency of adolescents’ visits has a positive effect on their compliance with the program designed to address their weight-related problems. Clearly, wide-scale interventions that could cover the entire population of obese minority adolescents will require considerable funding, so the use of technology can make the project viable. The staff will be trained to identify issues, locate the most informative resources, provide the most appropriate recommendations, and encourage adolescents to live healthier lives. Adolescents with weight-related problems will receive recommendations during several visits (if necessary), will access online resources aimed at developing healthy lifestyles, and will get regular digital tips and notifications associated with weight management.

Barriers and Evaluation

The primary barrier to the implementation of this change is the lack of funding. The solutions to this problem have been discussed above. The use of technology can be the necessary solution. As mentioned above, the development of sound standards and guidelines for the medical staff is essential as healthcare practitioners often have insufficient knowledge and skills. Proper reimbursement will also be instrumental in motivating the staff to actively help patients acknowledge and address the existing problem.

The major goal of the wide-scale change is the reduction of the rate of obese adolescents and young adults in the USA. However, these outcomes will be apparent in several years. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the problem, it is necessary to analyze the attitudes of healthcare professionals and their patients to the change. If it turns out that practitioners are motivated to provide detailed recommendations and supervise their patients’ progress, the program is effective. If adolescents start shaping their lifestyles, the change is successful.

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Primary care professionals help patients address diverse issues and provide recommendations concerning the most appropriate dietary habits and lifestyles. However, physicians and nurses are often overwhelmed with numerous tasks and lack time to give the necessary guidelines to patients. The proposed program will help the medical staff improve the quality of healthcare services. Healthcare professionals will spend enough time counseling adolescents as to the most appropriate diets and lifestyles for the youth. Young people will receive guidance and supervision that can help them change their health habits and maintain proper lifestyle.


Arcan, C., Larson, N., Bauer, K., Berge, J., Story, M., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2014). Dietary and weight-related behaviors and body mass index among Hispanic, Hmong, Somali, and white adolescents. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(3), 375-383.

Cui, Z., Seburg, E. M., Sherwood, N. E., Faith, M. S., & Ward, D. S. (2015). Recruitment and retention in obesity prevention and treatment trials targeting minority or low-income children: A review of the clinical trials registration database. Trials, 16(1). Web.

Findholt, N. E., Davis, M. M., & Michael, Y. L. (2013). Perceived barriers, resources, and training needs of rural primary care providers relevant to the management of childhood obesity. The Journal of Rural Health, 29(s1), s17-s24.

Wadden, T. A., Volger, S., Tsai, A. G., Sarwer, D. B., Berkowitz, R. I., Diewald, L., … Vetter, M. (2013). Managing obesity in primary care practice: An overview with perspective from the POWER-UP study. International Journal of Obesity, 37(S1), S3-S11.

Wright, K., Giger, J. N., Norris, K., & Suro, Z. (2013). Impact of a nurse-directed, coordinated school health program to enhance physical activity behaviors and reduce body mass index among minority children: A parallel-group, randomized control trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 50(6), 727-737.

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