BCBS to offer diabetes toolkit through AOA site

March 7, 2012

The Good Health Club Physician Toolkit, a unique set of educational materials designed to foster better communication between physicians and their patients on childhood obesity and diabetes prevention has been launched by Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) Association.

The AOA attended the briefing on this new initiative and obtained permission to access these materials for AOA membership.

The Good Health Club Physician Toolkit and all its resources can now be downloaded from the AOA Web site at www.aoa.org/goodhealthclub or at www.bcbs.com/goodhealthclub.

For a full Good Health Club Physician Toolkit, contact a local Blue Cross Blue Shield organization.

The Good Health Club Physician Toolkit was developed in consultation with the American Diabetes Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics and includes materials that have been successfully used by the BCBS companies around the country.

The toolkit is available in both English and Spanish and contains tip sheets, physician reference materials, tracking sheets and educational brochures.

It features messages from the “Good Health Club,” a group of animal characters who focus on a 5-2-1-0 message.

The Good Health Club encourages children to:

1. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
2. Limit screen time to two hours or less.
3. Get a least one hour of physical activity.
4. Limit sweetened drinks to 0.

BCBSA piloted the toolkit with five Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies and 1,600 pediatricians and family physician practices.

Physicians were surveyed and responses were overwhelmingly positive.

Nearly 80 percent of the respondents considered the patient educational materials effective and nearly three-quarters of the physicians would recommend the tool kit to a colleague.

The Centers for Disease and Prevention reports an increasing frequency of Type 2 diabetes among U.S. children and adolescents in the last two decades.

One in three U.S. children born in 2000 could develop diabetes during their lifetime, and the prevalence of obesity among children ages 6 to 11 more than doubled in the past 20 years, going from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 17 in 2006.

“The combination of rising levels of Type 2 diabetes correlated with childhood obesity is now an epidemic across the nation. Every 20 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes in the United States; that’s 4,320 people every day,” said Gregory Wolfe, O.D., MPH, chair of the AOA Health Promotion Committee.

Larry Hausner, chief executive officer of the American Diabetes Association, is hopeful “that programs such as the Good Health Club Physician Toolkit will emphasize the importance of healthy habits. Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference to stop diabetes and its devastating complications.”

So what can optometrists do to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes? “As primary care providers, doctors of optometry continue to be one of the key primary entry points into the health care system and can serve as valuable resources in helping to educate patients and their families to reverse the devastating trend of childhood obesity and its complications,” said Rose Betz, O.D., of the AOA’s Health Promotion Committee.

“Not only is this information useful with one-on-one parent and child education, but also the toolkit can serve as a reference for outreach programs in your local schools and when speaking to civic or professional organizations,” said Sue Lowe, O.D., of the AOA’s Health Promotion Committee.

“Given the training, skills and experience, optometrists are able to provide not only good vision care but also help patients and their families achieve healthy lifestyle behaviors that improve their quality of life. Optometrists are uniquely positioned to partner with other physicians, primary care providers, and wellness program coordinators within their communities to help patients achieve these healthy lifestyle goals,” Dr. Lowe said.

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