Training Health Care Professionals to Manage Overweight Adolescents: Experience in Rural Georgia Communities


  • For further information, contact: David A. Dennison, MS, CHES, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Hwy, NE, MS K-24, Atlanta, GA 30341; e-mail


ABSTRACT: Context:The obesity epidemic threatens the present and future health of adolescents in the United States. Yet, health care providers lack specific training for pediatric obesity assessment and management. Purpose: This study examined the adherence of rural Georgia primary care practitioners to an overweight adolescent management protocol. The study also documented the prevalence of obesity-associated physiological and behavioral risk factors among overweight adolescent patients. Methods: Ten rural clinics (58 providers) were recruited and received a 90-minute adolescent overweight assessment and management training session. Select biochemical, dietary, physical activity, and physical inactivity behaviors were assessed in overweight adolescent patients. Medical charts were abstracted to assess practitioner compliance with an overweight assessment protocol and patient adherence to a 16-week follow-up visit. Findings: Providers were receptive to training and complied with the recommended protocol. Eighty-five overweight adolescents were assessed, but only 49 (57%) completed the scheduled 16-week follow-up visit. Physical, biochemical, and behavioral assessments revealed that 13%-27% of the participants had abnormal levels of lipids, fasting glucose, and glucose/insulin ratio, and 80.5% had waist circumferences above the 90th percentile. Conclusions: Practitioners complied with the assessment and follow-up protocol, leading to the discovery of previously unrecognized risk factors in many overweight adolescent patients. Lack of patient adherence to follow-up was the greatest limiting factor for obesity management. Further efforts are needed to implement and evaluate training to improve the management of adolescent overweight, especially in rural communities.