The objective of the present study is to examine physical and mental health trajectories of change in youth with severe obesity attending a tertiary care weight management program. It was predicted that younger children would show favourable changes in body mass index (BMI), markers of cardiovascular health, quality of life, and mental health.
This 2-year longitudinal study examined health trajectories of children referred to a weight management program at a Canadian paediatric tertiary care centre from November 2010 to December 2013. Participants were 209 of 217 consecutive referred paediatric patients (families) aged 3 to 17 years who met criteria for severe obesity and consented to participate. To maximize generalizability of results, there were no exclusion criteria. Primary outcomes were children’s quality of life and BMI. Secondary outcomes included anxiety, depression, and non–high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
The findings suggest an improvement in mental health, quality of life, and cardiometabolic health of children and adolescents of all ages over the 2 years of programming. These positive findings were consistent across gender, age, and distance to the program. BMI trajectory changes varied across age cohorts such that younger children showed more favourable outcomes. The retention rate over the 2 years was high at 82.9%.
This is the first study to show improvements in both physical and mental health outcomes beyond 1 year in a tertiary care setting with a high-risk population of children and youth with severe obesity. Findings highlight the need to examine both mental and physical health outcomes beyond 1 year.