We know from experience that many physicians choose to intervene late in the clinical course of childhood obesity. However, increased support from colleagues can have a big effect on increasing the chances of early intervention, reports a recent Canadian study.
Karen Bailey and colleagues (which included Katherine Morrison, a Team ABC3 Project Leader) examined the attitudes of pediatric clinicians toward treatment of pediatric obesity to determine factors that prompted the decision to treat or refer patients for weight management interventions in Canada.
Participants (n=198) completed a discrete choice experiment to identify the scenarios in which they would most likely treat pediatric obesity. Through their responses, 30% showed an early intervention preference; 70% preferred late intervention. While early interveners were more sensitive to variations in patient and family support, and obesity without medical presentations, late interveners were more sensitive to cardiometabolic risk factors (e.g., insulin resistance, high blood pressure).
Notably, support from colleagues had a very strong influence on treatment decisions, a factor that increased the likelihood of early intervention from 16% to 82%. From a practical standpoint, these data suggest that supporting and encouraging clinical colleagues to connect families with information and resources related to weight management can help families to gain access to services when they’re ready, willing, and able.