Using Telehealth as a tool for childhood obesity reduction in elementary school Hispanic children

Miranda M Clement, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The prevalence of childhood obesity remains a concern in the United States. Childhood obesity is a strong predictor of adulthood obesity. Ability to access health care services and scarcity of local health care professionals in remote communities are barriers to receiving specialized interventions to reduce childhood obesity. Technology can facilitate access to obesity treatment programs to families and children in need, overcoming many challenges of geographically remote areas. This dissertation evaluated the effectiveness of using telehealth as an alternative approach to face-to-face nutrition and behavioral modification in reducing childhood obesity. Methods: Data from the Diabetes Risk Reduction via Community-Based Telehealth (DiRReCT) study were used for the purpose of this dissertation. Selected biological, nutritional, physical and sedentary measurements were used to evaluate effectiveness of both telehealth and face-to-face programs and their comparability. For each outcome, the difference in the mean change was tested at the 5% significance level using a one-sided paired t-test. McNemar’s Chi-square tested for crude pre-post comparison by program. Regression analysis tested for adjusted pre-post comparison by program. Results: After adjustment, neither method of delivery showed significant success in reducing obesity risk. However, there were some positive significant results from the study. We found a statistically significant decrease of sedentary activities in both delivery methods and a significant reduction in the amount of time spent watching television in the face-to-face program. Acanthosis nigricans, total cholesterol, and triglycerides showed a significant improvement among the children participating in the face-to-face program. Conclusion: Overall, the interventions in this study were not successful in reducing childhood obesity. Study limitations such as the small sample size, the high initial obesity rates of participants, or a time interval insufficient to detect a measurable difference could have contributed to these findings. The limitations which affect our ability to detect significant change in face-to-face programs may extend as well to telehealth programs.

Subject Area

Elementary education|Public health

Recommended Citation

Clement, Miranda M, "Using Telehealth as a tool for childhood obesity reduction in elementary school Hispanic children" (2015). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3731979.