Managing pre-school weight issues - what is your role and when to refer?
Child weight management is an important public health issue for which no single organisation has responsibility.
Organisations can however work together and every professional who has contact with pre-school children can take responsibility for their part in supporting families and children. The modules in this online resource have provided you with information on why pre-school child weight is important, how to identify weight issues in pre-school children, and how to communicate with parents about their child’s weight and related lifestyle issues (i.e. physical activity and diet).
By pulling together this information, you now have the evidence-based knowledge and skills to support families to promote a healthy weight in pre-school children.
Whether you work in a children’s centre, are part of the health visiting team or work in a GP practice, try asking yourself “what can you do to help this family manage their child’s weight?”
Here’s a summary of the steps you might take to support a family with a pre-school child (drawing on the communication skills outlined in the communicating weight module throughout):
- Identify the extent of the child’s weight issue and any potential medical concerns
- Ask the parents about why they think the child might be over- or under-weight
- Ask the parents about the child’s physical activity and diet
- Support the parents to set an action plan to improve either physical activity and/or diet
- Consider whether any onward signposting (e.g. HENRY) or referral (e.g. to GP) is appropriate at this stage
- Arrange for a follow up meeting with the parent
Health visiting team only – Whilst the first point of call is to support the family yourself, there may be some circumstances where you feel further medical support is required. For example, you may have already followed the family up for six months and find the child’s weight is not improving, or perhaps you are concerned there might be underlying medical issues. In these instances, it is important you continue to support the family with their physical activity and diet alongside any referral you make.
Below is a short quiz containing questions on what you have learnt throughout this module. If it takes a number of goes to get all of the questions correct, please note down each score in your logbook in the space provided. The main purpose of this quiz is to embed learning, and provide you with the opportunity to evaluate your learning. Please remember that we are focusing on the effectiveness of this website and not auditing your practice.
Once you have all the questions correct you will be provided with a certificate of module completion
Roles, responsibilities and referrals
Start the quiz
1. Which professions could be the first point of contact for a child of unhealthy weight?
a) Children’s Centre staff
c) Health visitors
d) All of the above
2. Which of these services are not provided by Children’s Centre’s?
a) Health visitor drop-in clinics
b) GP drop-in clinics
c) HENRY courses
d) Active play sessions
3. If a parent isn’t concerned about their child’s weight, which of these is an effective strategy to bring this to their attention?
a) Plot the child on a growth chart and talk the parents through where their child sits
b) Tell the parent their child is overweight
c) Ask how active their child is
d) Tell the parent they need to reduce the amount of snacks their children eats
4. If a Children’s Centre staff member wishes to support a family with a pre-school child to address a weight issue, which of the following approaches would be appropriate?
a) Refer to a medical professional before taking any action
b) First found out about the family’s lifestyle and concerns, before considering the best action to take
c) Consider what you can do to help them and also whether they might need additional support from a medical professional
d) b and c
5. If a health visitor notices a child seems to be spending a lot of time in front of the TV, what might be the most appropriate way to raise this with parents?
a) Tell them their child is spending too much time in front of the TV
b) Ask permission to talk a little about their child’s activity levels
c) Best not to bring it up, as it might upset the parents
d) Explain to the parents the dangers of sedentary behaviour, without mentioning their own child
6. If a health visitor sees a child who is overweight and there are no medical concerns, but clear areas of physical activity and diet that could be improved, what would be the most appropriate action?
a) Set an action plan with the family and review progress a few months’ later
b) Set an action plan with the family but also refer to the GP for medical support
c) Refer to the GP for medical support, and take no action until you have heard back from them
d) Take no action, but review again in 3 months’ time
Thanks for taking part!