Attrition and body mass index change in pediatric weight management: the predictive value of demographic and mental health variables
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Child and adolescent obesity has increased dramatically in the last few decades, and remains a pressing health concern in the United States. Responding to the problem of obesity in youth has been a challenge, as body mass index (BMI) change is difficult to attain, and attrition from pediatric weight management programs is often very high. The purpose of the current study was to identify demographic and mental health variables that can predict attrition and BMI change in a pediatric weight management program using multiple linear regression and binary logistic regression. Participants were children and adolescents with obesity 6-18 years of age and their parents living in the central Texas area and participating the a hospital-based multidisciplinary pediatric weight management program. Results provided several significant findings. Rates of attrition from the intervention were similar to findings from prior research. No study variables significantly predicted dropout prior to the third visit. However, parent’s preferred language, taking psychiatric medication at the first visit, and symptoms of inattention were all significant predictors of dropout prior to the fourth visit. In paired-samples t- tests, unstandardized BMI scores increased significantly from first to last visit, while BMI z-scores decreased significantly. Average time between visits significantly predicted unstandardized BMI change and BMI z-score change in this sample. Last visit number was also a significant predictor of unstandardized BMI change. Implications, limitations, and areas of future research are discussed.