Association of Clinician Behaviors and Weight Change in School-Aged Children

Am J Prev Med. 2019 Sep;57(3):384-393. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2019.04.029. Epub 2019 Aug 1.


Introduction: This study uses clinical practice data to determine whether recommended weight management clinician behaviors are associated with weight status improvement in children aged 6-12 years who are overweight or obese.

Methods: Electronic health record data (2009-2014) from 52 clinics were used. Weight status was examined from 1 visit to the next as dichotomous improvement (versus worsening or no change) and change in percentage overweight (over sex/age-specific BMI95). The primary predictor was a clinician behavior variable denoting attention to high BMI alone or with assessment of medical risk/comorbidities and was defined using combinations of diagnostic codes and electronic health record orders. Covariates included time between visits and medications associated with weight gain or loss. Adjusted multilevel regression models examined the association of the clinician behavior variable with weight status improvement. Analyses were conducted from 2015 to 2018.

Results: Children (n=7,205) had a mean age of 8.9 years; 45.5% were overweight, 54.5% obese, and 81.1% publicly insured. For 62% of overweight children, and 38%, 21%, and 11% of those in obesity classes 1-3, respectively, no attention to high BMI/medical risk assessment at any visit was identified. Children with evidence of clinician attention to high BMI alone and who underwent a medical risk assessment had significantly greater AOR of improvement in percentage of BMI95 and percentage of BMI95 change: BMI alone, AOR=1.2 (p<0.001) and β= -0.3 (p>0.05); BMI/medical risk, AOR=1.2 and β= -0.5 (both p<0.001). Other factors associated with weight status improvement included prescription medications (1 or more prescriptions associated with either weight loss or none associated with weight gain) and fewer months between visits.

Conclusions: This is the first study to use electronic health record data to demonstrate that widely recommended clinician behaviors are associated with weight status improvement in children aged 6-12 years who are overweight or obese.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / prevention & control*
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Pediatricians / psychology
  • Pediatricians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Weight Gain
  • Weight Loss