Planting a seed – talking about young children’s overweight and obesity in the health care setting. A qualitative study within the STOP project* *Practice Abstract also available in Swedish

In Sweden, child health care (CHC) nurses play a key role in preventing children’s overweight and obesity, and understanding underlying factors that influence these conversations is crucial to offer support to families. We interviewed 17 CHC nurses regarding their experiences of addressing and communicating children’s overweight and obesity to parents. CHC nurses reported that a trustful relationship with families was important when initiating conversations about children’s weight. They asked for more training in communication skills and education in childhood obesity, clear guidelines for what care they should provide, when they should refer to other healthcare professionals and to whom. We formulated the following recommendations for CHC nurses to strengthen weight management for children:

To facilitate the conversation, prepare parents on the visit’s topic and schedule enough time; Let parents describe children’s weight development – this approach will make it easier to understand their perspective and offer support; If parents are resistant to talk about the child’s weight, “plant a seed” and schedule a follow-up visit to see the family’s behaviour change process; Contact preschools in your area and ask how you can collaborate to support families with advice regarding food choices and daily active play; Contact healthcare providers in your area to see what weight management care they provide to know where you can refer the family to; You need to be able to have non-blaming conversation about children’s overweight; Supervision is key to become confident in conversation skills; Identify trainings to attend to improve your knowledge on childhood overweight and obesity.