New national adolescent weight control registry will recognize successful teen weight loss efforts
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 16 percent of children ages 6-19 years are overweight or obese - a number that has tripled since 1980.
In an effort to combat this epidemic of pediatric obesity, researchers at The Miriam Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University - led by Rena Wing, PhD, and Elissa Jelalian, PhD - have launched a landmark new study to better understand not only how teenagers lose weight but also how they keep it off.
The new Adolescent Weight Control Registry (AWCR) is the pediatric partner to the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), the largest prospective study of long-term successful weight loss maintenance that was developed to help identify and study the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. The NWCR is currently tracking over 5,000 adults who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time.
Following a similar model, the AWCR is looking for teens in Rhode Island and across the country between the ages of 14 and 20 who have lost more than 10 pounds and maintained that weight loss for at least one year. Researchers are interested in learning from teens about how they achieved their weight loss success. Participants in the AWCR are asked to complete questionnaires and an interview that may be done either in person at the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center (WCDRC) at The Miriam Hospital or through mail and telephone contact.
"The major challenge in treating obesity for teens and adults is not only losing weight but keeping it off. There is very little research on effective weight control strategies for teens, and the research that has been done has focused on the actual weight loss itself, not the strategies that help teens successfully maintain that weight loss and avoid regain," said Rena Wing, PhD, who will serve as one of the primary investigators. She is director of the WCDRC and is a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Alpert Medical School.
Elissa Jelalian, PhD, will co-direct the study. She is a child psychologist with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and the WCDRC who has conducted research on weight regulation and behavioral interventions for overweight children and adolescents.
"We're hoping the Adolescent Weight Control Registry will shed some light on what weight management tools and strategies work for this specific population, who are often dealing with additional stressors such as peer pressure, teasing and low self-esteem," said Jelalian, who is also an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Alpert Medical School. "This information could ultimately lead to improved and more effective obesity treatment programs for adolescents."