Assessment of the Effectiveness of a Computerised Decision-Support Tool for Health Professionals for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity. Results from a Randomised Controlled Trial.
Plain language summary
Obesity is related to the increased risk for chronic diseases and to nutrient insufficiencies, a paradox that has been characterised as the “double burden of malnutrition”. The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a computerised decision-support tool as a means of childhood obesity management. The effectiveness of the decision-support tool was assessed through a pilot randomised controlled intervention trial. The study recruited a total sample of 80 children (obese or overweight) with an age range between 6 and 12 years. The participants were allocated to two study groups – intervention group and control group. Results indicate that a computerised decision-support tool, designed to assist paediatric healthcare professionals in providing personalised nutrition and lifestyle optimisation recommendations to overweight or obese children and their parents, can result in favourable changes to certain dietary intake and anthropometric indices in the children that received the intervention. Authors conclude that the computerised decision-support tool resulted in improvement of the children’s dietary intake and body mass index. Hence, the tool can support clinicians to improve the effectiveness of care.
We examined the effectiveness of a computerised decision-support tool (DST), designed for paediatric healthcare professionals, as a means to tackle childhood obesity. A randomised controlled trial was conducted with 65 families of 6⁻12-year old overweight or obese children. Paediatricians, paediatric endocrinologists and a dietitian in two children's hospitals implemented the intervention. The intervention group (IG) received personalised meal plans and lifestyle optimisation recommendations via the DST, while families in the control group (CG) received general recommendations. After three months of intervention, the IG had a significant change in dietary fibre and sucrose intake by 4.1 and -4.6 g/day, respectively. In addition, the IG significantly reduced consumption of sweets (i.e., chocolates and cakes) and salty snacks (i.e., potato chips) by -0.1 and -0.3 portions/day, respectively. Furthermore, the CG had a significant increase of body weight and waist circumference by 1.4 kg and 2.1 cm, respectively, while Body Mass Index (BMI) decreased only in the IG by -0.4 kg/m². However, the aforementioned findings did not differ significantly between study groups. In conclusion, these findings indicate the dynamics of the DST in supporting paediatric healthcare professionals to improve the effectiveness of care in modifying obesity-related behaviours. Further research is needed to confirm these findings.