Using the Strategic Prevention Framework model, we have been working to address obesity among 2 to 4-year-old children who participate in the WIC program. After a variety of SPF assessment activities during 2011 and identifying unhealthy diet and physical activity as risk factors, we gave a voluntary, written survey in WIC clinics to parents of children within the targeted age range. We surveyed about 402 households between February and July 2012. The purpose was to help determine the contributing factors that lead to unhealthy diet and physical activity behaviors and identify key changes that can be made.
Most of the results were not surprising to us and were comparable with data we looked at from other sources. One response was surprising, however. We know from Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System data from 2011 that 14.6% of Morrisville District WIC children over 2 years old were overweight, and 12.3% were obese. Despite this, none of the parents surveyed perceived their child as overweight. Vermonters, like other Americans, are growing more overweight – a trend that holds true for both adults and children. We are seeing that parents often do not recognize this in their children, missing an important opportunity to steer them toward a healthier future.
We will explore possibilities within our community so that ultimately parents may have a more accurate perception of their child’s weight status. For example, staff will partner with more medical providers and various children’s programs to provide education and encourage evidenced-based interventions.
The Morrisville District Office staff will explore multiple points of readiness in the community to address the mismatch between parental perception and current trends of childhood overweight and obesity. For example, staff will partner with more medical providers and various children’s programs to provide education and encourage evidenced-based interventions.