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Posted on February 24, 2014 by West Corporation 


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TeleVox™ Study Exposes Need For More Interaction Between Doctors And Parents To Combat Childhood Obesity Epidemic

As obesity rates rise, TeleVox technology can improve communication between healthcare providers and parents, promoting healthy habits among children

  • A Significant Problem: 65 percent of Americans and 87 percent of healthcare providers believe that childhood obesity is a significant problem in the U.S.
  • Poor Diet: Nearly half of Americans (40 percent) said they could do a better job of providing healthy food options for their children.
  • The Doctor Knows Best: Nearly nine in ten healthcare providers (88 percent) feel their patients with children could do a better job managing their child’s weight.
  • It’s Not Genetic: 89 percent of Americans and 97 percent of healthcare providers believe that poor diet and exercise habits—and not genetics—are the biggest causes of childhood obesity.

Mobile, Ala., February 24, 2013 — Nearly half of American parents (40 percent) admit they could do a better job of providing healthy food options for their children, according to a Healthy World Report released today by TeleVox titled The Childhood Obesity Epidemic: Poor Health Habits Threaten the Future of America’s Youth. Healthcare providers have taken notice and are concerned with the overall health of American children. The vast majority of healthcare providers, 87 percent, believe that childhood obesity is a significant problem. This is far more than the 65 percent of Americans who said that childhood obesity is a significant problem.

Fortunately, most Americans attribute this problem to issues that we have control over, including diet and exercise. Eighty-nine percent of Americans believe that poor diet and exercise habits, and not genetics, are the biggest causes of childhood obesity. This number is even greater among healthcare providers, as 97 percent feel that diet and exercise are the main contributors to childhood obesity.

One of the biggest issues stems from the lack of education provided to children about the health risks associated with obesity and ways to prevent it. Both healthcare providers and parents feel that the lack of education for our youth is contributing to the disease. Nearly four in ten healthcare providers (37 percent) and just over four in ten Americans (41 percent) felt that the lack of education for children about healthy eating choices is a significant problem in the U.S., as reported by The Childhood Obesity Epidemic. Providing this education can begin at home, with parents teaching children about making healthier choices by choosing healthier options to serve at mealtimes and for snacks. Many states are also beginning to introduce laws that implement health education in the classroom.

However, this education is not doing enough to promote healthy eating among children. The average American child eats five fast food meals per month, and nearly one-fifth of American children eat fast food about twice a week, according to The Childhood Obesity Epidemic. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise to see our youth gaining weight. It is time for Americans to incorporate healthy foods into their daily meal plans for their families. It shouldn’t be difficult, as nearly half of Americans already admit they could do a better job of providing healthy food options for their children.

“Parents realize what causes children to be overweight and unhealthy, and many are willing to admit that they could do a better job of providing healthier foods and encouraging their children to exercise,” said Scott Zimmerman, President of TeleVox. “The key is providing parents with the encouragement and support they need to educate their children about the importance of developing and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits.”

Communication with Healthcare Providers Can Help Parents Curtail Childhood Obesity

There are many factors, both positive and negative, that can influence a child’s life. These influences range from ads they see on television to their favorite professional athletes. But, ultimately, parents and caregivers are the most influential people in a child’s life. With this in mind, the habits that parents have are likely to be the same habits their children develop. These actions affect children in all aspects of life, including their exercise and eating habits.

Unfortunately, according to The Childhood Obesity Epidemic: Poor Health Habits Threaten the Future of America’s Youth, this is where many parents are not making the grade. While nearly nine out of ten healthcare providers (88 percent) feel their patients could do a better job of managing their children’s weight, just a quarter of parents (23 percent) said that they are worried about their child being or becoming overweight. Additionally, just under a third of parents (32 percent) said that their children could benefit from losing weight right now. Sadly, more than two-thirds of American parents (68 percent) believe that childhood obesity is a significant problem in the U.S. These statistics are alarming because while parents admit to seeing a growth toward obesity among American youth, few parents are concerned with their own children’s weight. This also means parents are less likely to make changes necessary to help their children.

While there is a large discrepancy between healthcare providers and parents in the concern over childhood obesity, there is agreement on the cause of obesity: Both healthcare providers and parents agree that poor diet and exercise habits are leading to the decline of our youth’s health. The Childhood Obesity Epidemic found that 97 percent of healthcare providers and 86 percent of parents believe that poor diet and exercise, and not genetics, are the biggest causes of childhood obesity. Coupling the increase of meals on-the-go in our fast-paced, convenience-driven society with sedentary lifestyles that result in part from advancements in technology, it is no surprise that obesity is a growing problem.

Keeping in touch with healthcare providers between check-ups should also be a priority for parents. According to The Childhood Obesity Epidemic, 53 percent of parents said they would be interested in and/or happy to receive personalized communication from their children’s doctor between office visits. Additionally, 31 percent of American parents said personalized communications from their children’s doctor between office visits would help them better manage their children’s weight.

“This is where healthcare providers can step in to provide the support needed by parents,” Zimmerman said. “Regular communications between office visits—whether it be a phone call, email, or text message—can remind parents of the importance of implementing the diet and exercise changes discussed during their child’s office visit, improving outcomes by increasing the likelihood that both parents and children stick to treatment plans.”

Mothers and Fathers Have Different Roles in the Obesity Battle

One of the greatest gifts in life is becoming a parent. It provides many happy memories: from experiencing the birth of a child, to seeing them light up a stage in a school play and succeed through graduation. However, being a parent also comes with many responsibilities, which differ for mothers and fathers. While fathers are often seen as the disciplinarians and coaches, mothers are often viewed as nurturers. However, both mothers and fathers are responsible for the health of their children, and this is something that needs more attention from many parents as childhood obesity becomes more prevalent.

But the rise in obesity rates among children cannot be attributed to a lack of concern among parents. According to The Childhood Obesity Epidemic: Poor Health Habits Threaten the Future of America’s Youth, 66 percent of mothers and 64 percent of fathers believe that childhood obesity is a significant problem in the U.S., and 34 percent of fathers and 30 percent of mothers feel that their child could benefit from losing weight. Additionally, 34 percent of parents said they are currently concerned with their children’s eating habits. Something has to be done to turn this concern into an active, healthy change in children’s lives.

While both parents are obviously concerned with their children’s health, more times than not it is the mother that holds more responsibility for managing a child’s health. Mothers typically are responsible for managing the healthcare for their families. It is also common for mothers to handle the grocery shopping and meal preparation—both for school lunches and dinner times. However, many women must balance these responsibilities with full-time jobs and other commitments. Since The Childhood Obesity Epidemic reports that 20 percent of mothers feel they could do a better job of providing healthy food options for their children, this balancing act continues to be a struggle in today’s society.

But this doesn’t mean that fathers have no impact on their children’s health. According to a study done by Texas AgriLife Research, fathers’ decisions on food—whether healthy or unhealthy—tend to have a more lasting effect on their children than a mother’s decision. The study, which was conducted over a 15-month period, found that when fathers choose to feed their children unhealthy foods—or eat out at restaurants—it is often seen as a treat. On the contrary, when mothers feed their children on the run, or swing through a drive-thru, it is because they are trying to balance a hectic schedule.

And The Childhood Obesity Epidemic supports this theory, as 93 percent of healthcare providers feel that fast food consumption is a significant contributor to childhood obesity. Additionally, 22 percent of fathers (and 21 percent of mothers) feed their children fast food twice per week. Choosing a healthy alternative—packing a lunch ahead of time or making time for healthier meals at home—has to be a conscious effort on the part of parents.

So where can parents turn to get additional help in promoting healthier lifestyles for their children? More men than women feel that communications from their doctor and healthcare provider would help in managing their children’s weight, as reported by The Childhood Obesity Epidemic. Fifty-eight percent of fathers, compared with 48 percent of mothers, said they would be happy and/or interested to receive communications from their doctor between visits with tips on managing their child’s weight.

The Childhood Obesity Epidemic Impacts the Entire Nation

Childhood obesity is not a problem confined to any particular region, as at least one-third of parents in every region in the U.S. said they could do a better job of providing healthy food options for their children, according to The Childhood Obesity Epidemic: Poor Health Habits Threaten the Future of America’s Youth. Midwestern parents reported the highest number at 44 percent, with 34 percent of parents in the West—the lowest of any region—saying they could do a better job of this. The same was true for encouraging their children to exercise, as at least 30 percent of parents in every region said they could do a better job of promoting an active lifestyle. Southern parents reported the highest number in this category at 42 percent, with parents in the West reporting the lowest at 31 percent.

Fortunately, this is where healthcare providers can step in to provide much needed support and feedback to parents. Fifty percent of Midwestern parents said that text messages with personalized tips from doctors between office visits could help them better manage their child’s weight, significantly higher than any other region. In the South, 50 percent of parents said that emails and/or phone calls between visits could help them better manage their child’s weight, the highest numbers reported in any region for these two methods of communication.

Creating a Healthy World

No matter your age, gender, or location, preventive action will not only improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs, but it will also improve quality of life and save lives. Patients want to be involved in their care, but need the tools to stay educated, encouraged and motivated to follow through for their own health. Text messages, phone calls and emails from physician get patients’ attention while providing this desired support and involvement.

Increasing patient communication efforts will require forward-thinking healthcare practitioners who understand that their continued involvement is critical to ensuring a healthy future for our patients. Many physicians understand that engaging patients between office visits can inspire them to embrace and build the habits to follow through with treatment plans. They know personalized, ongoing engagement can activate positive lifestyle changes that will help people lead healthy lives.

Media Resources

  • Download the full report for a deeper look at the findings.
  • Download infographics.
  • To arrange an interview with Scott Zimmerman, President of TeleVox, to discuss these study findings in more detail, please contact Robby Trail from Jones PR at robby@jonespr.net, or by calling 931-808-0901.

About The TeleVox Study

The Childhood Obesity Epidemic: Poor Health Habits Threaten the Future of America’s Youth is based on a survey of more than 1,130 Americans ages 18 and older and 463 healthcare providers representing a variety of specialties and disciplines. The research was conducted in collaboration with Kelton Research using an email invitation and an online survey format.

In the case of individuals, quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population ages 18 and over. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

About Healthy World

A healthy world, while global by definition, actually happens one person at a time. It is driven by forward-thinking healthcare practitioners who understand their involvement is critical to ensuring a healthy population.

The Healthy World initiative, launched by TeleVox, aims at helping people — young and old — be healthy!

Three imperatives for creating a healthy world — one person at a time

  1. Touch the hearts and minds of patients to drive positive behavior change.
  2. Engage patients with information and encouragement between visits.
  3. Activate patients to make positive behavior changes for a healthier life.

The driving force behind the goal of creating a healthy world are the healthcare professionals who take the time to engage patients with personalized, thoughtful, ongoing communications that encourage and inspire them to embrace and follow ongoing treatment plans.

They know every communication with a patient — including those that take place between office visits — is an opportunity to help that person understand the importance of good habits like nutrition, physical activity, taking their medications as prescribed and following new treatment recommendations. Engaging patients and their families between visits through proactive, relevant communications helps them to wake up and stay focused on positive behavior changes is the way to create a healthy world — one patient at a time.

About TeleVox

TeleVox is a high-tech Engagement Communications company, providing automated voice, email, text and web solutions that activate positive patient behaviors through the delivery of technology with a human touch.

Since 1992, TeleVox has been creating a comprehensive approach that breaks through and motivates people to live healthy lives. At TeleVox, we understand that touching the hearts and minds of patients by engaging with them between healthcare appointments will encourage and inspire them to follow and embrace treatment plans. We know personalized, ongoing patient engagement will activate positive lifestyle changes. TeleVox helps healthcare professionals touch, engage and activate every unique patient to lead healthy lives.

TeleVox. High-tech, human touch to create a healthy world — one patient at a time.


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