W8Loss2Go Study Slated by Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Not long ago, Childhood Obesity News reported on the fourth W8Loss2Go study that is currently underway in Washington state. Now, a new and next-level study is in preparation. Its very explicit title is “W8Loss2Go: Behavioral Weight Loss Intervention Utilizing Mobile Health Technology in Pediatric Patients Referred to a Tertiary Care Center Weight Management Clinic.”

In practical terms, this means Children’s Hospital Los Angeles will road-test the W8Loss2Go smartphone application. The program was created by Dr. Pretlow and E-Health International and will be open to patients enrolled with the Children’s Hospital EMPOWER Weight Management Clinic. (The acronym EMPOWER stands for Energy Management for Personalized Weight Reduction.)

The principal investigator is Steven Mittelman, MD, who serves as director of the institution’s Diabetes & Obesity Program, under the auspices of the Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism.

The rise of mHealth

The terms mHealth and m-health are both short for “mobile health,” which expresses the concept of medicine and public health as practiced with the support of mobile devices. Interest in the mHealth field is high because, finally, technology is available to provide an inestimable amount of help to medical professionals and patients alike. For many reasons, those two groups are often unable to reach each other, much as they might wish to.

Regarding the W8Loss2Go study, a secondary focus is the desire to “increase the amount of health provider-patient interaction outside of clinic based face-to-face-sessions in a cost-effective manner.” In other words, perhaps all mentoring activities do not need to be conducted in person. As part of the program, kids who are accepted will receive weekly phone calls from the study coordinator, one of whose functions is to provide motivation.

The study

The Children’sHospital study is in the category known as interventional, because it is the study of an intervention, namely, W8Loss2Go. The investigators will be looking for weight loss, more formally described as the reduction of BMI (body mass index.)

Also, does the app really help kids identify and eliminate their problem foods, quit snacking, and reduce the amount eaten at mealtimes? We believe it does, and the pilot studies have indicated that it does.

The literature speaks of an idea which, only a few short years ago, was considered outlandish:

It has been theorized that overeating in some individuals may have addictive qualities, and that specific foods may have addictive potential for these people…

mHealth interventions have been successful in the treatment of other addictions, the investigators hypothesize that mHealth technologies which are rooted in behavioral theory could be effective…

The subjects

The kids chosen for the 6-month program are between 12 and 18 years old, either gender, and they need to be signed up with the weight loss clinic. The application process goes like this:

New EMPOWER patients complete the Yale Food Addiction Study for Children (YFAS-c), a validated 25 item instrument designed to identify addictive behaviors related to food. […]

Enrolled subjects and their parents will complete the Eating Behaviors Questionnaire (EBQ-Merlo 2009), and then receive the app, an iPhone 5S (if needed), a wireless body weight scale, and a wireless food scale.

At the three-month mark, the kids will return to the clinic to be weighed and to have face-to-face meetings with their mentors. When the 6-month study is finished, they will of course have their weights charted, and will retake the EBQ. Aside from shedding pounds, the object is for them to become less attracted to food as a solution to every discomfort, and to free themselves from emotionally-motivated eating.

The study will start in April and run for six months, then all results will be tallied and the academic requirements for a correct report will be fulfilled, and the world will learn the results late in 2017. All the details are on the U.S. National Institutes of Health webpage.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “W8Loss2Go: mHealth Weight Management Strategy,” ClinicalTrials.gov, Feb 2016
Image by E-Health International

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