Case Study

Motivational Interviewing to Promote Healthy Weight

portrait of pre-teen girl
10 years

Luna, a new patient, comes to your office with her mother for an annual Texas Health Steps preventive medical checkup. You notice Luna's mother holding two half empty, 20-ounce soda bottles, apparently one for her and one for Luna. Right away, Luna's mother mentions that Luna often wants to stay home from school even when she is not sick. During the exam, you use a body mass index calculator and determine that Luna is in the 90th percentile for her age and sex - which places her in the overweight range.

Luna is about to start middle school, which can be a challenging environment for a child who is overweight. Luna's weight also puts her at risk for lifelong health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Motivational interviewing (MI) can help you help Luna.

MI is a powerful and empathetic conversational tool that allows providers to collaborate with patients to bring about positive behavioral changes that support better health. MI relies on open questions, affirmation, and reflective listening that includes restating patient answers without judgment.

Here are a few ways you can put MI into practice as you address Luna's overweight status.

Ways to begin an MI conversation:

Ways to explore change:

Ways to engage the family:

Why it Matters

A family approach is essential for good nutrition and successful treatment of overweight in young people. Cooperation from both patient and family is crucial. Motivational interviewing helps you explore attitudes and readiness for behavioral change. MI is a true collaborative partnership that can establish healthy habits to last a lifetime.

Next Steps

Check out the Related Courses listed below to learn more about how you can use motivational interviewing to promote healthy weight and nutrition for children and adolescents.

Related Courses

About Texas Health Steps

Texas Health Steps’ award-winning online program offers FREE CE courses for primary care providers and other health professionals. These courses offer updated clinical, regulatory, and best practice guidelines for a range of preventive health, oral health, mental health, and case management topics.