Impact of Psychosocial Risk on Outcomes among Families Seeking Treatment for Obesity

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Abstract

Objectives

To test the hypothesis that children with elevated psychosocial risk would have increased attrition and worse weight outcomes in weight management treatment.

Study design

This was a prospective cohort study of 100 new patients, aged 4-12 years, in a weight management clinic. Parents completed the Psychosocial Assessment Tool. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to calculate the odds of attrition from the clinic and a nonmeaningful change in body mass index (BMI) z-score (ie, <0.1 unit decrease in BMI z-score) over a 6-month period based on psychosocial risk category, adjusting for child demographics and baseline weight category.

Results

The majority of patients were male (59%), black (36%) or white (43%), and had severe obesity (55%), and 59% of families were categorized as having moderate or high psychosocial risk. Over the 6-month period, 53% of families were lost to follow-up, and 67% did not have a clinically meaningful decrease in BMI z-score. Compared with children of families with low psychosocial risk, children of families with moderate or high psychosocial risk were 3.1 times (95% CI, 1.3-7.2 times) more likely to be lost to follow-up and 2.9 times (95% CI, 1.1-7.9 times) more likely to have a non–clinically meaningful change in BMI z-score.

Conclusions

Children presenting with increased psychosocial risk have higher attrition and poorer weight outcomes, supporting the need for psychosocial screening as a standard component of pediatric weight management treatment.

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