AAP to take more steps as part of its anti-obesity advocacy

October 9, 2005

AAP's primary effort to combat the "mega issue" of obesity among children in the United States this year will be a tool kit to help clinicians deal with the problem, Nancy Krebs, MD, co-chair of the Academy's task force on obesity, told attendees at the AAP National Conference today.

AAP's primary effort to combat the "mega issue" of obesity among children in the United States this year will be a tool kit to help clinicians deal with the problem, Nancy Krebs, MD, co-chair of the Academy's task force on obesity, told attendees at the AAP National Conference today.

The resource kit, planned for release next year, will target AAP's goal for the task force of making obesity prevention a part of every routine child health supervision visit and having pediatricians be able to identify and treat children and their families who are overweight, including addressing related comorbidities.

Krebs presented a progress report on what the task force, formed in 2003, is doing about the problem and how it is helping pediatricians stay in the forefront of efforts to combat it.

On the key issue of reimbursement, Krebs, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado, said the task force will work to have pediatricians recognized by insurers, employers, and legislators as critical providers of health services for overweight and obesity prevention and treatment for all children.

Along those lines, the group is working on a number of resources, including a coding fact sheet and strategy for claims and coverage denials, to be made available on the AAP Web site.

The task force is also developing resource materials for chapters to educate payers on the evaluation and treatment of obesity by pediatricians, as well as a backgrounder for health insurance carriers.

The task force is also currently participating in payer conferences and work groups, as well as meeting with national carriers to advocate for recognition and reimbursement for an obesity diagnosis code and reimbursement of prevention and treatment.

Continuing its work on the goal of advocacy by collaborating with other organizations, this year the group presented testimony to the Federal Trade Commission about the impact of advertising, emphasizing that advertising to children younger than 8 years exploits them.

The task force has obtained a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct seminars and provide technical support for advocacy in community schools, and is developing a guide for community advocacy and collaboration, which is scheduled to be posted in December.

On the pediatrics education front, the task force is also working toward collaborating with medical residency and fellowship programs in discussions with education leaders, evaluating existing on-line curricula, and preparing to apply for federal support of training.

Krebs concluded her tally of the task force's accomplishments and plans by emphasizing that obesity is a "mega issue" in children's health and that pediatric health care is therefore an essential sphere of influence that must be involved in reversing the current trends.