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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Memphis Study Examines Effectiveness of Primary Care Physician Mediated Interventions for Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity

A study led by Dr. Soumitra Bhuyan, an assistant professor of health systems management and policy at The University of Memphis School of Public Health analyzed Primary Care Physicians (PCPs)-mediated interventions targeting childhood obesity. The study systematically reviewed the prior literature on PCP-mediated interventions to treat childhood obesity between January 2007 and December 2014 and further examined the various components of these interventions and also, outlines the role that PCPs play in the interventions. The different intervention components that were identified were behavioral, educational and technological interventions. Further, the PCPs participated in screening and diagnosing, making referrals for intervention, providing nutrition counseling, and promoting physical activity as part of the intervention. In addition to the PCPs, other health care professionals such as nutritionists/dietitians, nurses, fitness instructors and lifestyle counselors also formed part of the intervention team in the studies identified in the systematic review.

[Photo: Dr. Soumitra Bhuyan]

PCP-mediated interventions have the potential to effectively curb childhood obesity. The review suggests that future research be focused on the use of technology-facilitated interventions to aid as well as enhance childhood obesity treatment interventions that are mediated or delivered by primary care physicians. The authors suggest that, “since provider time can be quite limited and thus costly to use for follow-up activities, future interventions could use technology services such as text/SMS (short message service) and/or automated telephone reminders for follow-up.” The authors emphasized that “ the Affordable Care Act of 2009 provides incentives to use health information technology to improve diagnosis and counseling for children with obesity. Electronic Health Record (EHR) adoption has resulted in substantial changes by automatic calculation of BMI and BMI percentiles, which had previously been a struggle for PCPs. These advances have the ability to automatically categorize patients based on their weight status, and also suggest counseling strategies based on age, BMI, and so forth. Smart phone applications and social networking websites have become extremely popular among young adults. Weight management applications for smartphones and tracking of weight through social networking may be an effective way to engage this population.” The review also suggests the need for targeted PCP-mediated interventions for at-risk populations to assess their impact on different populations.

The findings from this study were published online in the August issue of Obesity Research & Clinical Practice.

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