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Telemedicine intervention effective against childhood obesity

At the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition, Cassandra Padgett, MS, ACE health coach, discussed how telemedicine intervention effectively managed obesity in pediatric patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Primary care intervention for childhood obesity is effective and affordable when delivered through telemedicine, according to a recent research poster presented by Cassandra Padgett, MS, ACE health coach, at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition.

Childhood obesity has been associated with multiple comorbidities, which often have a greater effect on children from low-income families. Effective management programs are not available for many of these children.

The WELL clinic, run by the Children’s Primary Care Medical Group, is a primary care specialty clinic stationed in San Diego and Riverside counties. During the COVID-19 pandemic, care at the WELL clinic shifted to telemedicine delivery, allowing care to reach a wider number of obese patients than before.

The telemedicine program during the COVID-19 pandemic involved 20-minute sessions based on the Wheel of Health, a health management chart including social and emotional wellness, sleep, screen time, physical activity, and nutrition.

Primary care pediatricians refer patients to WELL, where they meet with a specially trained board-certified pediatrician or nurse practitioner. They are then given counseling for obesity and any comorbidities. Patients receive support in scheduling, follow-up, and care coordination.

During the 2-year period of telemedicine care, 4104 referrals were submitted, with 970 initial visits and 2554 follow-up visits being fulfilled. Of these, 98 patients completed at least 6 visits. Body mass index (BMI) saw a reduction in 43% of patients, 11% of which ended the program with a BMI of under 95%.

Patients reported receiving help from the WELL clinic in 95% of cases, and 100% said they would refer the program to a friend. Insurance covered all visits, and no-show rated were reduced through telemedicine.

These results indicated the telemedicine is clinically and financially feasible for obesity intervention in pediatric patients. This could give children access to a high-quality program no matter what background they come from.

Reference

Padgett, C. The W.E.L.L. Clinic A Telemedicine-Based Childhood Obesity Specialty Clinic Rooted In Primary Care. Presented at: American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition. Anaheim, California. October 7 to October 11, 2022.