Obesity and Telehealth, Continued

The previous post left off by describing a study of weight loss technology, as applied to young adults. The kids who participated were asked what kinds of information they did not have enough of. Among many other things, they expressed a need for help in defining reasonable goals. They were not averse to hearing experts give advice about how to overcome barriers (internal and external) and get results.

They talked about what they would want from a weight-management app: an individualized program tailored to their “height, weight, gender, age, and weight loss goals.” And again, as researcher Janna Stephens noted…

Very few young adults knew that any of these features were available in current smartphone applications and when they heard that it was available, they were excited to use this type of technology.

What kind of personal feedback would kids want from their ideal telehealth program? The “how” was easy — text message or email. A weekly summary of the objective facts would be fine: records of their food consumption, physical activity, and measurable progress. What they did not want was negative feedback of any kind. Apparently, most teens get enough of that at home and school.

Short time, big change

Five years later, the telehealth field exploded. It was forced to, by the worldwide COVID-19 emergency. A large number of pediatric nurses collaborated on a paper to explain how things were going. It mentioned the lack of income that massive societal disruption imposed on many families, and the consequent dearth of health insurance for them. Long-distance doctoring became essential, and many primary care providers adopted telemedicine as an integral part of their practices.

Two years later the American Academy of Pediatrics held its national conference, where telemedicine was gratefully credited for its contributions to the management of pediatric obesity during the pandemic. Journalist Celeste Krewson gave an example:

[C]are at the WELL clinic shifted to telemedicine delivery… The telemedicine program during the COVID-19 pandemic involved 20-minute sessions based on the Wheel of Health, a health management chart including social and emotional wellness, sleep, screen time, physical activity, and nutrition.

Primary care pediatricians refer patients to WELL, where they meet with a specially trained board-certified pediatrician or nurse practitioner. They are then given counseling for obesity and any comorbidities. Patients receive support in scheduling, follow-up, and care coordination.

Overall, the results showed that telemedicine is “clinically and financially feasible for obesity intervention in pediatric patients,” and “could give children access to a high-quality program no matter what background they come from.”


This post would be incomplete without a reminder to check out the very comprehensive, effective, state-of-the-art telehealth program, BrainWeighve.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “When Pandemics Collide: The Impact of COVID-19 on Childhood Obesity,” PediatricNursing.org, 11/11/20
Source: “Telemedicine intervention effective against childhood obesity,” ContemporaryPediatrics.com, 10/11/22
Image by Esther Vargas/CC BY-SA 2.0

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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