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Acad Pediatr. 2013 Mar-Apr;13(2):152-8. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2012.12.004.

Weight change in pediatric TennCare recipients referred to a commercial weight loss program.

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Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Stuttgart, Germany.



The epidemic of overweight and obesity in the United States is not limited to adults but also affects children and adolescents. Low-income children are disparately affected because they have an elevated risk for developing obesity. Effective interventions are urgently needed to prevent and treat obesity in children. In 2006, Tennessee Medicaid (TennCare) and Weight Watchers formed the TennCare Weight Watchers Partnership Program, which allowed pediatric recipients to attend Weight Watchers with no out-of-pocket cost.


This study is a nonconcurrent prospective analysis of administrative data from the TennCare Weight Watchers Partnership Program. It examined the weight change of TennCare beneficiaries between the ages of 10 and 17 who participated in the program from January 2006 to January 2009 and compared the weight change to the recommendations of the Expert Committee Recommendations Regarding the Prevention, Assessment, and Treatment of Childhood and Adolescent Overweight and Obesity.


Fifty-three percent of participants either met or exceeded the recommendations of the panel on childhood obesity at the end of their involvement in the program. Participants who attended the program for more than 12 weeks and those who attended 10 or more meetings had a 5% decrease in their body mass index z score.


The TennCare Weight Watchers Partnership Program was successful in helping a majority of children and adolescents who participated to meet or exceed the Expert Committee's recommendations. This type of partnership can give children in low-income families the opportunity to participate in a structured program with a good chance of success.

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