‘The adventure begins’

September 23, 2015

How fitting is it that the subject article for this first commentary would be on a topic that impacts all of our practices: Childhood obesity (“’F’ for ‘Fat’ Grading Weight Report Cards”). In it, Dr. Petrou discusses some of the controversies regarding legislation implemented in 24 states requiring mandatory body mass index (BMI) surveillance and screening programs in schools with ‘report cards’ to parents.

The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) has collaborated with Contemporary Pediatrics to offer NAPNAP members this electronic issue of Contemporary Pediatrics each month. What an exciting agreement for everyone! As part of this new partnership, I have been selected as the first Pediatric Nurse Practitioner to serve on the Editorial Advisory Board of Contemporary Pediatrics. I feel so honored, as I have been an avid reader of this high quality, highly respected journal since I graduated from my Nurse Practitioner (NP) program. One of the goals for this new role is to provide the NP perspective for 1 or more of the articles published in the journal each month. I will endeavor to be insightful as I read each article, reflect upon the content, and then discuss what I believe to be its meaningful implications for NP practice. My personal practice goals include searching for ways to enhance my practice to improve the health care outcomes for my patients. I know NAPNAP members-and all PNPs-share these goals. So, let’s read together, reflect together, analyze evidence-based practices, and evaluate our patient outcomes. Let’s help parents raise happy and healthy children and adolescents with strong foundations to be healthy adults.  And so, this adventure begins….

How fitting is it that the subject article for this first commentary would be on a topic that impacts all of our practices: Childhood obesity (“’F’ for ‘Fat’ Grading Weight Report Cards”). In it, Dr. Petrou discusses some of the controversies regarding legislation implemented in 24 states requiring mandatory body mass index (BMI) surveillance and screening programs in schools with ‘report cards’ to parents. Dr. Petrou identifies the controversies related to this legislation and the lack of evidence from rigorous studies to support the value of a providing a BMI ‘report card’ to the parents.  The lack of scientific evidence provides an opportunity for university faculty and doctoral students to collaborate with school nurses to conduct quality improvement studies and/or research studies to evaluate the outcomes of this mandate.

In addition, one must consider, the question: How can this information about the BMI ‘report card’ be applied in NPs’ clinical practice? Whether or not NPs practice in 1 of the 24 states with the mandated law, best practice supports assessing the height, weight, and BMI status of every child during office visits and to identify meaningful child/family interventions for the child to attain a weight that normalizes the child’s BMI. In states with this legislation enacted, NPs should view this law as a unique opportunity to partner with the school nurses, the parents, and the child to further enhance efforts to educate both parent and child on healthy interventions to improve the child’s BMI.

Thank you for reading this commentary and reflecting on ways to improve the outcomes for overweight children in your personal practice.