Guest Post: Assessing Tools For Preventing Childhood Obesity in Primary Care

Jillian Avis, PhD Candidate, University of Alberta, Edmonton

Jillian Avis, PhD Candidate, University of Alberta, Edmonton

Today’s guest post comes from Jillian Avis, PhD Candidate, Department of Paediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton

Primary care providers (e.g., family doctor, kinesiologist, registered dietitian) play a key role in preventing childhood obesity. To assist with obesity prevention, providers use a variety of tools and resources in clinical practice to (i) assess and monitor children’s weight status (e.g., body mass index growth charts), (ii) communicate children’s weight status with families (e.g., 5As of Pediatric Obesity), (iii) educate families on healthy lifestyle behaviors (e.g., Canada’s Food Guide), and (iv) facilitate behavior change (e.g., magnetic place models).

Although such tools are regularly used by providers, little is known regarding their use and suitability in practice. Thus, in a recent publication, our team pilot‐tested a mixed methods study to preliminary assess these tools – Do they work? Do providers like them? How are they used?

We conducted one‐on‐ one interviews with multidisciplinary primary care providers (n=19) from 10 primary care clinics in Edmonton and Calgary. Following the interviews, we compiled a comprehensive list of all tools used by providers, which were subsequently evaluated using three assessment checklists (e.g., Suitability Assessment of Materials).

Our findings show that most tools score ‘average’, and criteria on the checklists (e.g., readability level, layout, graphics) overlap with providers’ perceptions of tool suitability.

However, the checklist criteria do not reflect providers’ views regarding the logistical factors that impact accessibility, such as cost, distribution, and production.

Conclusions from our research highlight that to assess the overall suitability and assist those developing tools for childhood obesity prevention, objective scoring using checklists should be considered in conjunction with contextual factors and providers’ perceptions of suitability.

If you’re interested in following Jill’s research, visit her blog

Edmonton, AB