Kaiser Permanente Georgia's Experience with Operation Zero: A Group Medical Appointment to Address Pediatric Overweight

Perm J. Fall 2006;10(3):66-71. doi: 10.7812/tpp/05-126.


Context: The rate of overweight (OW) in children in the United States has more than tripled since 1980. The health consequences of pediatric OW include type 2 diabetes and significant illness later in life. Treating pediatric OW is a necessity; however, health care clinicians have minimal access to successful and comprehensive treatment modalities for addressing it.

Objective: Kaiser Permanente of Georgia (KPGA) offers a group medical appointment clinic, Operation Zero (O.Z.), as a referral program for preadolescent and adolescent patients who are in the 85th or higher percentile for body mass index (BMI) for their age. The eight-session clinic uses a family-oriented approach and provides a supportive group environment with interactive learning, games, physical activity, and creative problem solving. The goal of the program is to improve lifestyle behaviors for nutrition and physical activity. Clinically, meeting these goals can manifest as reductions in body fat (BF), waist size, and BMI-for-age percentile. Two implementation models help improve dissemination of the program within KPGA.

Design: Baseline and eight-week postclinical outcomes for O.Z. participants were analyzed to determine program effectiveness. A retrospective analysis with a control group looked at long-term clinical outcomes to determine weight maintenance. Main outcome measures were weight, BMI-for-age percentile, waist size, and percentage of body fat (%BF).

Results: At eight weeks after program completion compared with baseline, there were significant reductions in %BF and waist size for the total sample and specifically for adolescents, preteens, and participants who attended six or more sessions. Among O.Z. participants, there were insignificant increases in weight at six months after program participation and BMI-for-age percentile at one year after participation. At six months, the mean change in weight and BMI in the O.Z. group was statistically less than the mean change in the control group.

Conclusions: A structured, family-oriented weight management program is effective in changing measures consistent with improved weight management.