Overweight children lack access to medical care

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(Host) A Vermont pediatrician says it’s time to classify the problem of overweight children as an eating disorder. Speaking Thursday night on VPR’s Switchboard, Gifford Hospital Medical Director, Dr. Lou DiNicola, said some children aren’t getting the medical care they need for overweight problems:

(DiNicola) “One of the biggest problems we in the medical field – and certainly for dieticians and for mental health counselors – is, it’s not acceptable to be used as a medical diagnosis. If you say, the only reason I’m seeing this person is because they’re overweight or obese – we can’t bill for that to insurance companies. They have to already have something wrong with them. And that’s a big problem – that’s actually a barrier to proper care.”

(Host) More than a quarter of Vermont children in grades eight through twelve are considered overweight. DiNicola said the dramatic increase in the number of overweight children has far reaching health effects. He says families need to work together to limit junk foods and provide more opportunities for children to get exercise.

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