Psychosocial Health & Treatment Outcomes

The most common question I get asked is: “How successful is your weight management program?” My answer is always the same: “It depends…”

There’s a growing recognition that obesity is not one condition or chronic disease, but a number of different conditions and chronic diseases that have varied causes and consequences. Over the years, Arya Sharma has spent a lot of his time writing and talking about the complexity of obesity, time that has been well spent given the prevailing public perception that simply eating less and moving more is the solution to unhealthy weight gain.

Along these lines, in a recent paper published in the Journal of Pediatrics, Phan et al. reported data validating what many front-line clinicians know from working with families. That is, those families at moderate-to-high psychosocial risk are less likely to achieve treatment success (defined by a decrease in weight status) and more likely to drop out of care prematurely. These results highlight the importance of mental health screening and counselling in managing pediatric obesity as well as tailoring care to those families who are at greatest risk of dropping out.

Of course, these suggestions aren’t new; however, what’s required now is intervention-based research to determine if there’s anything we can do to prevent families from dropping out (perhaps through improved psychosocial screening and counselling) so that they can derive the greatest possible benefit from health services to improve the health and well-being of children with obesity.


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