Healthcare Professional Training and Advocacy

Gold Cadeceus

Every healthcare professional’s training toolbox must include the skills to counsel patients about obesity prevention and lifestyle change. Actions speak louder than words, so it’s important for clinicians to model healthy eating and active lifestyles. They can also be strong advocates for obesity prevention efforts in their communities.

Here is a summary of obesity prevention recommendations for healthcare professional associations and healthcare professional advocacy, based on a review of expert guidance from the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and others. For more detailed guidance on these recommendations and ideas for putting them into practice, explore the source list and the links to other resources.

Healthcare Professional Training and Associations

Tools for Healthcare Professional Training and Advocacy (tools_for_healthcare_professional_training_and_advocacy.jpg)

Require training in obesity prevention and lifestyle counseling, such as (1,2,3,4)

  • Interpreting BMI percentile for age
  • Counseling on nutrition and physical activity
  • Motivational interviewing skills
Distribute position statements and other evidence-based information on obesity prevention (2)
Encourage members to be role models for healthy eating and activity (2)

Healthcare Professionals as Advocates

Related Topics (related-topics.jpg)

Read and print the complete list of healthcare obesity prevention recommendations.

Serve as leaders and role models, within one’s practice and community, to encourage healthy changes in physical activity, nutrition, and the built environment(2,4,5,6)
Advocate at the practice, professional organization, local, state, and federal levels for policy and built environment changes that promote healthy eating and physical activity in child care settings, schools, after-school programs, and communities (4,7,8,9,10)
Encourage parents to advocate for environmental changes that promote physical activity in their children’s schools and communities (11)

Healthcare Professional Training and Advocacy—Source List

1. White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity. Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity within a Generation: White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the PresidentOpens in New Window: White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity; 2010.

2. Koplan JP, Liverman CT, Kraak VI, eds. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance.Washington, D.C.: The National Academies PressOpens in New Window; 2005.

3. The Obesity Society. Position Statement: Youth Weight Bias and Discrimination in Healthcare SettingsOpens in New Window. Silver Spring: The Obesity Society; 2010.

4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010Opens in New Window Rockville: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2010.

5. American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness and Council on School Health. Active healthy living: prevention of childhood obesity through increased physical activity. PediatricsOpens in New Window. 2006;117:1834-42.

6. Let’s MoveOpens in New Window. Healthcare Providers Take Action. Accessed February 3, 2012.

7. Davis MM, Gance-Cleveland B, Hassink S, Johnson R, Paradis G, Resnicow K. Recommendations for prevention of childhood obesity. PediatricsOpens in New Window. 2007;120 Suppl 4:S229-53.

8. Gartner LM, Morton J, Lawrence RA, et al. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. PediatricsOpens in New Window. 2005;115:496-506.

9. Barlow SE. Expert committee recommendations regarding the prevention, assessment, and treatment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity: summary report. PediatricsOpens in New Window. 2007;120 Suppl 4:S164-92.

10. Childhood Obesity Action NetworkOpens in New Window. Expert Committee Recommendations on the Assessment, Prevention and Treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight and Obesity; 2007.

11. Tester JM. The built environment: designing communities to promote physical activity in children.PediatricsOpens in New Window. 2009;123:1591-8.

Terms of Use

The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Obesity Prevention Source Web site is to provide timely information about obesity’s global causes, consequences, prevention, and control, for the public, health and public health practitioners, business and community leaders, and policymakers. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The Web site’s obesity prevention policy recommendations are based primarily on a review of U.S. expert guidance, unless otherwise indicated; in other countries, different policy approaches may be needed to achieve improvements in food and physical activity environments, so that healthy choices are easy choices, for all.

Terms of Use

The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Obesity Prevention Source Web site is to provide timely information about obesity’s global causes, consequences, prevention, and control, for the public, health and public health practitioners, business and community leaders, and policymakers. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The Web site’s obesity prevention policy recommendations are based primarily on a review of U.S. expert guidance, unless otherwise indicated; in other countries, different policy approaches may be needed to achieve improvements in food and physical activity environments, so that healthy choices are easy choices, for all.