Psychosocial Functioning After One Year of Interdisciplinary Pediatric Weight Management

E. Thomaseo Burton, Tamekia L. Jones, Webb A. Smith, Joan C. Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Youth with obesity are more likely than normal-weight peers to experience psychosocial problems. Empirically-based recommendations for addressing pediatric obesity include intensive interdisciplinary weight management comprising medical, behavioral health, nutrition, and exercise components. The present study examined changes in psychosocial functioning associated with frequency of participation in an interdisciplinary pediatric weight management program. Participants were 86 patients (55.8% females; median age = 11.5 years; 67.4% Non-Hispanic Black; median BMI percentile = 99.5) enrolled in an interdisciplinary pediatric weight management program for at least one year. Psychosocial functioning was measured with the Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC-17), a caregiver-completed mental health screen that assesses internalizing, externalizing, and attention difficulties as well as global functioning. The PSC-17 was completed at the initial clinic visit (baseline) and repeated one-year later (annual). The Wilcoxon Signed Rank test indicated that annual PSC-17 scores were significantly lower than baseline scores across all domains. Spearman correlation coefficients revealed no significant association between total number of clinic visits and PSC-17 global or subscale scores. However, the number of visits for exercise-only sessions was significantly correlated with caregiver-reported improvement in internalizing behaviors. Findings suggest that participation in interdisciplinary pediatric weight management may improve psychosocial functioning in youth with obesity and that attending supervised exercise sessions may be especially beneficial for improving internalizing behavior symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-99
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • behavioral health
  • exercise
  • obesity
  • pediatric weight management
  • psychosocial functioning


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