Data Is Power: Michigan Fights Childhood Obesity by Tracking It

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Data Is Power?

"It is absolutely essential that pediatricians track BMI in their patients," Scirica says. "Obesity in childhood is highly predictive of obesity later in life, and the longer a child remains overweight and the more overweight they become, the harder it becomes to achieve a healthy weight."

Encouraging a regular conversation between pediatrician and parent about a child's weight is so important, Scirica says, because "some parents are simply not aware that their child is overweight or obese. Even among parents who do recognize that their child is overweight, there is a tendency to underestimate just how overweight their child is ... and underestimate the long-term health and other risks associated with their child's excess weight."

Childhood obesity is "arguably the No. 1 pediatric health problem," says Ayoob, "so if reporting on BMI -- something doctors should already be tracking on their own -- allows for documentation of a worsening or improvement, this could also help influence future policy."

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