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Does a Health Information Technology System developed by Children and their Parents improve Obesity Therapy?

D. Büchter; Tobias Kowatsch; B. Brogle; A. Dintheer; D. Wiegand; I. Pletikosa Cvijikj; D. Durrer; Y. Schutz; Wolfgang Maaß; J. Laimbacher
In: 22nd European Congress on Obesity, Prague, Czech Republic. Fribourg Obesity Research Conference (FORC), Obesity Reviews, 2015.


Existing treatment programs for obese children prove limited effectiveness and sustainability. Health Information System (HIS) enhanced interventions have the potential for higher accessibility and cost-effectiveness of multi-professional family-based obesity therapy. The aim was not only to modify the patient’s behavior but also to positively influence their family system. Methods: In cooperation with therapists, extremely obese children, their parents, computer scientists and information systems researcher, a mobile HIS was developed, consisting of a tablet PC with photo and patient’s privacy services, relaxation tools and the ability to measure speed of eating by electronic stop watch, emotional parameters by self-assessment manikin mood scale and physical activity by 3-axes accelerometer, Fitbit, combined with telephone interviews. Three groups of each six extremely obese children (BMI > 99.5, median BMI z-score 3.0, age 13.2 2.3 years) were assigned to therapy in either an (1) individual or (2) group setting with HIS, or (3) individual care without HIS. Physical activity, speed of eating and physical and emotional parameters were evaluated before and after 12 months of therapy. All patients and parents gave informed consent for adherence to therapy, monitoring and the use of tablet PC’s. Results: A total of 25% of extremely obese children with HIS and 60% without HIS decreased their BMI-SDS. Children using HIS did not reduce their obesity more than the control group without HIS, if parents did not support their children at home. Those children with parental support did use HIS for activity, mood and nutrition monitoring regularly. Conclusion: In extremely obese children, home support with HIS is only effective, when children are guided by their parents while using HIS. To select appropriate families for HIS home support, careful examination of the family system including their motivation and psychosocial factors is needed.

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