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AHRQ--Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Advancing Excellence in Health Care

Topic Suggestion Description

View Topic Suggestion Disposition (PDF) 178 kB

Date submitted: August 13, 2009

Briefly describe a specific question, or set of related questions, about a health care test or treatment that this program should consider.
Will education on a structured eating program decrease obesity in children and adolescents?
Does your question include a comparison of different health care approaches? (If no, your topic will still be considered.)
If yes, explain the specific technologies, devices, drugs, or interventions you would like to see compared:
Take high schools in six towns. In towns A, B, and C, provide dieticians to provide dietary counseling. (Alternatively, just do nothing).

In towns D, E, and F, have Weight Watchers run programs for ALL students (not just overweight students) AND family members and teachers.

Compare weights, eating habits, diet knowledge, in one year and five years (maybe later).

Compare weights, eating habits,
What patients or group(s) of patients does your question apply to? (Please include specific details such as age range, gender, coexisting diagnoses, and indications for therapy.)
Children, adolescents, and their families
Are there subgroups of patients that your question might apply to? (For example, an ethnic group, stage or severity of a disease.)
Describe the health-related benefits you are interested in. (For example, improvements in patient symptoms or problems from treatment or diagnosis.)
Decreases in obesity
Improvements in cholesterol
Decreases in diabetes
Describe any health-related risks, side effects, or harms that you are concerned about.
Possible that it might make overweight children feel self-conscious. However, if all students get weighed and participate, then no one is singled out.

Also, over-attention to food may increase eating disorders in adolescents.

Appropriateness for EHC Program

Does your question include a health care drug, intervention, device, or technology available (or likely to be available) in the U.S.?
Which priority area(s) and population(s) does this topic apply to? (check all that apply)
EHC Priority Conditions (updated in 2008)
  • Cardiovascular disease, including stroke and hypertension
  • Obesity
AHRQ Priority Populations
  • Low income groups
  • Minority groups
  • Children
Federal Health Care Program
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)


Describe why this topic is important.
obesity is an epidemic
What specifically motivated you to ask this question? (For example, you are developing a clinical guideline, working with a policy with large uncertainty about the appropriate approach, costly intervention, new research you have read, items in the media you may have seen, a clinical practice dilemma you know of, etc.)
Wrote a project to do this but could not find anyone to be the PI (and did not have time myself).
Does your question represent uncertainty for clinicians and/or policy-makers? (For example, variations in clinical care, controversy in what constitutes appropriate clinical care, or a policy decision.)
If yes, please explain:
It is not clear whether structured eating and exercise programs such as Weight Watchers work better than other programs although, in my experience and in the literature, there is some indication this is so. I recommend Weight Watchers due to their well-developed program that allows many different dietary choices and something that does not rely on buying special foods.

Potential Impact

How will an answer to your research question be used or help inform decisions for you or your group?
Describe the timeframe in which an answer to your question is needed.
Describe any health disparities, inequities, or impact on vulnerable populations your question applies to.
Poor people and those from underserved groups often lack basic knowledge about nutrition, so this type of program is likely to be more important for patients from these groups. However, all students and families will benefit.

Nominator Information

Other Information About You: (optional)
Please choose a description that best describes your role or perspective: (you may select more than one category if appropriate)
  • Physician
Are you making a suggestion as an individual or on behalf of an organization?