The Relationship Among Child Weight Status, Psychosocial Functioning, and Pediatric Health Care Expenditures in a Medicaid Population


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Abstract

Objectives To examine the association between weight status and health service use, while considering the influence of psychosocial functioning and demographic variables. Methods Two hundred child–parent dyads were recruited from pediatric primary care clinics and completed measures of height, weight, and questionnaires assessing psychosocial functioning. Claims and expenditure data over a 12-month retrospective period were extracted from the Medicaid claims database. Results Children who were obese incurred greater health service use and expenditures than children who were of a healthy weight, even after controlling for psychosocial functioning and other demographic variables. Children who were overweight (but not obese) did not have differing levels of claims or expenditures than their healthy weight peers. Conclusions Understanding the impact of pediatric obesity on long-term expenditures is critical. These results provide some indication of the financial savings that might be achieved if obese children were supported to achieve a healthier weight status.

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