Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Healthy Bodies—Choosing Language & Setting the Tone

A Four Part Series with Pediatric Obesity Specialist Dr. Dyan Hes

Part OneChoosing Language & Setting the Tone

For this exciting four part series, One Sassy Doctor had the opportunity to interview one of a select few of certified pediatric obesity specialists in the country. Dyan Hes, MD is board certified in both pediatrics and obesity medicine and a member of the inaugural American Board of Obesity Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. Hes by visiting her website.

Dr. Jen: Dr. Hes, thank you so much for spending time with us on the One Sassy Doctor blog. We’re all about healthy, happy, playful (and Sassy) babies, toddlers and families and are excited to learn from you. What does it mean to be a specialist in Pediatric Obesity and what got you interested in this field?

Dr. Hes: Happy to be here, Dr. Jen! Love this blog and what you’re doing at Sassy Baby to provide education and laughter along with products. I am a general pediatrician with a practice in New York City and also specialize in Obesity Medicine—a new field focusing in the prevention and management of obesity. My focus is childhood obesity; both working with families of children with weight management challenges, and focusing my practice and prevention programs on avoiding the pitfalls known to lead to obesity.

Dr. Jen: What are your thoughts on the word obesity and do you use that word with children?

Dr. Hes: I am particularly aware of the sensitivity required to create a collaborative visit with patients and families. My office is not called an “obesity clinic” rather a weight management center. The first thing I do when a family enters my office is congratulate them for taking this step for their child in an effort to put everyone at ease. I then inform the parents that I will not use words such as “fat”, “obese”, or “overweight” with their young children. Most children do not even know that they are in my office for weight issues. I tell them that the visit is about healthy nutrition and how to improve their eating habits. I explain that doctors may use the term “obese” perhaps if discussing the body mass index. I tell them that these words are for doctors to communicate with one another based on the degree of excess weight of a patient and that it is not a pejorative term. That being said, no one is allowed to call the patient fat or to say hurtful words in my office. This would only break down any possible line of communication I have with a patient and lowers their self esteem.

Dr. Jen: How old are your patients?

Dr. Hes:
Pediatricians, as you know, are trained to focus on prevention and health education from a young age. While my weight management practice doesn’t typically involve babies and toddlers, the preventive aspects of weight management starts during the first year of life. I focus visits with young children and parents on “making their body healthy from the inside out” which, at times, includes addressing parental health habits.

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