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INTRODUCTION

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Children are not little adults—or are they? The epidemic of childhood obesity is accompanied by comorbidities similar to those seen in adults cared for in internal medicine clinics. But, you say, “I went into Pediatrics so that I would not have to deal with those diseases anymore! What happened?”

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Welcome to the 21st century. As a pediatric health care provider, you have the privilege of watching children grow up. You have the challenge of assisting them and their families to engage in healthy lifestyles in a world full of unhealthy choices. You will be encountering and treating children with obesity and obesity-related comorbidities as part of your daily practice of pediatrics. It is our hope that this guide will help you help them. Whether you are a trainee or practicing clinician, your voice for children and families matters because you can influence patients, families, communities, states, and beyond to adopt practices and policies to enable healthy eating and active living.

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In this book, we have taken a stepwise approach to introducing you to the complex issue of childhood obesity. We begin with a helpful guide on how to use this book. We then enter the heart of the book, describing the essentials of providing care for children with or at risk for obesity. We start with the essentials of obesity prevention at different ages. As pediatric health care providers, we have many golden opportunities to guide families to adopt healthy eating and active living habits. This section is followed by instructions on how to assess and treat children with obesity. We review the 4 recommended stages of treatment, highlighting Stage 1, Prevention Plus, and Stage 2, Structured Weight Management, because these are the stages most suited to implementation in pediatric primary care. We finish with a section on how to advocate for children with obesity and their families. Tips for compassionately caring for individual patients, connecting them with resources, and stepping outside clinic walls to advocate in the community are offered for your consideration.

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Margaret Mead, a world-famous anthropologist, once said, “Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” As a pediatric health care provider, you can help to create a brighter future for patients with obesity, 1 child at a time.

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