UniCare Trainings Help Combat Obesity In Kansas

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According to the 2007 Kansas Youth Risk Behavior survey, 11 percent of high school students were obese and, more than half did not meet the recommended levels of physical activity. Research demonstrates that prevention is a key component to help combat the growing epidemic of obesity among youth today.

UniCare Health plan of Kansas (UniCare) will launch an innovative physician seminar and Body Mass Index workshop for nurses and medical assistants that will provide the medical community with up-to-date education and tools to help them better monitor, BMI and provide obesity-related care.

The event begins with an early morning medical seminar offered for physicians and led by local pediatrician Monica Pierson, MD, who specializes in child and adolescent obesity.

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The seminar will address prevention, detection, assessment and management of obesity. The afternoon session, designed for nurses and medical assistants in primary care practices, will focus on the use of BMI to standardize screening for overweight and obese individuals. The session will include valuable hands-on training along with tools and resources, including a BMI calculator wheel, BMI-for-age growth charts, job aids, family brochures and parent educational materials.

"We know that prevention is critical in helping to address this growing problem and research has shown physicians seldom use BMI to screen for obesity," said Linda Steinke, director of field operations for UniCare Health Plan of Kansas. "Our local physicians play an important role in the fight against obesity and our goal is to provide training for physicians and clinical staff and, equip their practices with tools to facilitate standard screening for members with this condition or those at risk. Early detection will allow physicians to provide preventive guidance and management services to children and families who need it most," added Steinke.

The program being launched in Kansas has successfully been implemented in California, Indiana and West Virginia training more than 2,000 physicians and nurses on the importance of incorporating BMI screening into their practice. Tomorrow's program is being launched in Overland Park but will be rolled out throughout Kansas next year to reach physicians and nurses across the state.

Although only six states in the nation mandate BMI screening, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of BMI screening as an important first step in identifying children as young as two years of age who are overweight or obese.

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