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The goal of Fit WIC Kentucky was to reach WIC health professionals to increase the awareness of the barriers in WIC to addressing the problem of childhood obesity and to assist health professionals in identifying possible solutions to the barriers.
Previous qualitative research conducted in Kentucky WIC had suggested that the dialogue that occurs between WIC health professionals and parents during nutritional counseling sessions often fails to create an effective partnership to either prevent or treat obesity. Communication barriers uncovered between WIC health professionals and WIC clients included differing views on how to define obesity, what causes it, when it becomes a problem, the context in which it occurs, and what to do about it.
To address these barriers, the Kentucky project developed a documentary-style video entitled "Beyond Nutrition Counseling: Reframing the Battle against Obesity". The video documented the daily challenges WIC families face in feeding their children. The video also exposed the gap between the reality of the WIC families' lives and the way in which they are provided information in the WIC setting. The provocative content of the video was designed to make health professionals reflect on their own counseling techniques and on the current structure of WIC and how both aspects might be altered to make the WIC program more responsive to the problem of childhood obesity. The intervention consisted of conducting facilitated group discussions with WIC health professionals about the video after they had viewed it. The video exposed the barriers to effectively working on weight issues in WIC, and the discussion was designed to help professionals think about solutions to the problem.
The intervention particularly stresses the goal of moving "beyond" what has been the traditional approach to "nutrition counseling" in achieving three major goals for WIC:
- providing staff training in counseling skills that educate parents on child development and child-rearing and that elicit the client's social context and personal goals
- shifting time allocation and programmatic emphasis in the WIC visits away from nutritional risk assessment and toward counseling,
- developing collaborations with primary health care providers and community agencies that impact childhood obesity.
The video was well received by the Kentucky health professionals who viewed it. Viewers felt that the video powerfully illustrated the challenges of addressing weight issues in the WIC program. After participating in the facilitated group discussions, viewers were better able to identify potential solutions to addressing childhood obesity in the WIC setting.
For additional information, go to www.cincinnatichildrens.org/svc/alpha/g/gen-pediatrics/obesity/default.htm
Fit WIC Kentucky
Fran Hawkins, RD, MS
Manager, Nutrition Services Branch
Kentucky Cabinet for Health Services
275 East Main Street
Frankfort, KY 40621-0001
Phone: (502) 564-3827
Fax: (502) 564-8389