AIM-HI Online Tool Uncovers Nutrient Deficiencies, Opens Lines of Communication

March 07, 2012 02:45 pm Matt Brown

The AAFP's Americans in Motion-Healthy Interventions (AIM-HI) initiative is offering a new tool to help family physicians talk with their patients about eating better and, consequently, losing weight.

[Stock photo of obese man getting his blood pressure taken]

AIM-HI's free online nutrition questionnaire( is designed to help patients assess their risk for nutrient deficiency, as well as help family physicians strategically address the nutritional habits of those patients and their families.

According to Kemi Orekoya, M.P.H., a certified health education specialist and special projects manager for AIM-HI, the free online nutrition questionnaire is designed to uncover potential nutrient deficiencies by asking patients how often they eat various types of fruits, vegetables and dairy products, as well as how often they eat fish and meat. The questionnaire also drills down to find out how many fresh and processed foods patients purchase.

"We are the most obese country in the world," Orekoya said. "But even so, because of what we eat -- because we eat too few nutrients -- we are malnourished. That is why the tool addresses common nutrient deficiencies such as potassium, calcium, vitamin D, iron, folate and vitamin B-12."

Orekoya said the tool can help family physicians talk with their patients about the sometimes uncomfortable issue of weight in the context of nutrition.

"Research from a survey shows that 88 percent of patients prefer to communicate with their doctor in person," Orekoya told AAFP News Now. "So we want to use that to motivate them to go in and have a conversation about nutrition and eating healthy. Research also tells us that physicians are uncomfortable talking about obesity, but this tool is designed to open the door for doctors to talk about adopting a healthier lifestyle.

"The patient can fill out the form right there in a doctor's office or print it off at home and bring it in to the office for their medical appointment," she added. "From there, the physician can talk about the changes that need to be made. It is all about educating patients to shop in the outer aisles of the grocery store and letting them know how important fresh vegetables are to their diet."

The nutrition questionnaire was funded through a grant from Pharmavite LLC, makers of Nature Made products.