Two Children on a Road

Pediatric Obesity Care: Moving from Talk to Action

Let’s start with a basic fact. More than five million youth and children in the U.S. have severe obesity. This is not about chubby cheeks or appearance. This is about young bodies with biological patterns of fat tissue setting them up for lifetimes of poor health. These are lives that untreated obesity will cut short. But for those five million young persons, fewer than 50 clinics exist to provide care that can put them on a better track. Yesterday in Obesity, Faith Ann Newsome and colleagues published an impressive analysis. They offer a framework for moving from talk to action for solving this glaring problem in pediatric obesity care.

The key is implementation science.

Exploration, Preparation, Implementation, Sustainment (EPIS)

The EPIS FrameworkBig changes don’t just fall into place. Knowledge doesn’t just magically turn into practice. Rather, a process unfolds to bring what scholars know into everyday use. This is what implementation science is all about – translating research into policy and practice.

So Newsome and colleagues applied the EPIS framework to the problem of inadequate scale for medical care in severe childhood obesity. This framework is a popular tool for putting evidence into practice. Newsome identified three big barriers: payment systems, operating costs, and access. Thus, dialogue with health systems and insurers, telehealth, training, and advocacy for greater scale emerged as key areas for focus going forward.

Perspective Borne from Experience

Newsome brings a personal experience to this subject. As a high school student she was able to benefit from a stage four obesity clinic at Duke University Medical Center. But she knows that her experience is exceptional:

“I hope this work can start conversations and spark change. Providers and patients must come together to advocate and demand the care that every single child, adolescent, and family deserves. Perhaps this paper can serves as a reference and documentation for the lack of access to adequate care. If it can support conversations to encourage the implementation for more of these important clinics, then we will see important progress.”

In sum, implementation science requires getting down to the hard work of making change happen. Newsome and other young advocates are clearly ready to take on this work for better pediatric obesity care. Count us as inspired.

Click here the article from Newsome et al and here for more on the EPIS framework. For more on the need for more care in childhood obesity, click here.

Two Children on a Road, painting by Chaim Soutine / WikiArt

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April 28, 2021

One Response to “Pediatric Obesity Care: Moving from Talk to Action”

  1. April 28, 2021 at 9:44 pm, Allen Browne said:

    I think one more big barrier exists as we try to help children with obesity and their families – internalized bias. The children with obesity, their families and the public need to understand the disease of obesity is not their fault and they are not doing it to themselves. As they understand this, they will not shy away from the topic of the disease of obesity and not shy away from interaction with the healthcare system. They need to know they will be treated with love,dignity, and respect. Until then financial support, sustainable operating costs and payment models, and access to care will have limited success.