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Child Psychologists Should Promote Wellness

An expert on pediatric oncology believes child psychologists should take a more active role in educating young clients on healthy lifestyle choices.

Many of the nutritional and activity habits that children and adolescents develop–eating a diet high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables, being physically inactive or sedentary, and experimenting with tobacco and alcohol use–significantly impact healthy aging.

Given that, psychologists with expertise in children’s health and behavior should be taking more of a lead role in helping young people develop good lifestyle habits early on and preventing these problems from occurring, says a researcher from Georgetown University Medical Center.

The scope of what child health psychologists can contribute to the health and well-being of children in our society is much broader than many have yet recognized, says Kenneth Tercyak, PhD, assistant professor of oncology and pediatrics and member of the Cancer Control Program at Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Among the leading causes of death in the United States are heart disease, cancer and diabetes, but actual causes of death—which are defined as lifestyle and behavioral factors such as smoking and physical inactivity—contribute to this nation’s leading killers Tercyak says.

“That means the choices that children and teenagers make early in life, and the activities that they engage in, can have serious implications for their physical health and well-being when they grow up,” he says.

“Because these health-compromising behaviors are typically initiated when a person is young, there is a need to more effectively prevent their onset and reform public health approaches to prevention. That is where child health psychologists can help.”

“There is a pressing need to readdress prevention efforts targeted toward our nation’s young people and their families, and child health psychologists are well-poised to advance this mission,” says Tercyak, who authored an editorial on the subject published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

“Specialists in childhood behavior have a lot of good expertise that should now be employed to play a greater role in disease prevention,” he says.

Many fields in and outside of public health have designed lifestyle and behavioral prevention programs, Tercyak says, but too few have been aimed at youngsters or fully taken into perspective the psychology of children.

“Increasingly, the energy in public health is being focused on the lives of children because we know these lifestyle habits form early and may carry forward into adulthood. Child health psychologists and other advocates for children’s health need to be more involved at all levels of prevention research, applied work, and policy making in helping young people adopt good self-care,” he says.

Source: Georgetown University Medical Center

Child Psychologists Should Promote Wellness

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Child Psychologists Should Promote Wellness. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 13, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/10/25/child-psychologists-should-promote-wellness/1449.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.