Childhood Obesity Treatment Programs: Ethical Considerations

Background of Study

The research problem that led to this study is the inadequacy of the current childhood obesity treatment programs in dealing with this health condition. According to the authors, the available treatment programs for childhood obesity yield moderate and short-term outcomes, and they do not have a mechanism of preventing or reducing the risk for weight gain in the future. Initially, it was not known what would be the effect of using approach-avoidance training (AAT) with motivational game elements in childhood obesity treatment programs. Therefore, this study sought to bridge this knowledge gap.

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The authors established the significance of the study by discussing different aspects of childhood obesity from its prevalence, effects, and treatment procedures. For instance, the authors noted that most obese adults had the same problem as children, and thus this health issue should be addressed early enough for better life outcomes.

Additionally, the authors highlighted the inadequacy of the current treatment programs, thus underscoring the importance of this study as it offers a better proposal for dealing with the problem.

The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of an innovative cognitive bias modeling (CBM) game training incorporated in a treatment program for childhood obesity (Verbeken et al., 2018). As mentioned earlier, the current treatment programs for obese children are inadequate. Therefore, the authors saw the need to come up with a novel way of increasing the effectiveness of available programs by incorporating ATT and motivational game elements.

The authors did not state the research question. However, it could be inferred to be what is the feasibility and effectiveness of an innovative cognitive bias modeling (CBM) game training incorporated in a treatment program for childhood obesity.

The purpose and research question was related to the problem being studied.

Method of Study

The qualitative methods used were appropriate to answer the research questions. The authors used observational methods to collect data from a focus group of forty participants, who were obese children involved in an inpatient obesity treatment program that would last for ten months in a certain pediatric center. As such, data collected from this focus group was sufficient to draw conclusions for the study.

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The authors identified a specific perspective from which the study was developed. For example, the literature review highlights the health burden caused by childhood obesity. Additionally, the authors explored the different aspects of this health condition. Finally, the authors highlighted the inadequacy of the current treatment programs in ensuring lasting solutions to the problem. Therefore, these elements underscore the perspective that the authors identified for the development of the study.

The authors cited both quantitative and qualitative studies that are relevant to the focus of the study. However, no other types of literature were included in the study. Some of the references used are current, while others are outdated. The study was conducted in 2018, and thus references published from 2013 onwards would be considered as current. As such, the most current reference was published in 2017. However, some sources are as old as 29 years, having been published in 1989. The authors did not evaluate or indicate the weaknesses of the available studies.

The literature review included adequate information to build a logical argument. For instance, it was established that the current treatment programs for childhood obesity yield short-term results without proper mechanisms to reduce the risk of recurrence in the future. This understanding forms the basis under which this study was conducted. However, the authors did not develop a framework for the study findings.

Results of Study

The authors did not find significant clinical outcome measures concerning the use of ATT to weaken obese children’s automatic reactions to unhealthy foods. Twenty percent of the participants noted that the training was boring, while 50 percent said it was neutral.

The implications of the study finding to nursing are two-fold. First, the available literature shows that the use of CBM training yields decreased caloric intake in children and adults. According to the authors, there is limited information on the effectiveness of the use of CBM training to reduce obesity in adults and children. Therefore, using ATT as one of the CBM training strategies, the authors added to the limited research on this topic. However, the findings did not support the available literature on the subject. Therefore, the impact of the findings on nursing would be to encourage nurses to focus on evidence-based treatment programs to achieve better results in the management of childhood obesity.

The findings contribute significantly to nursing knowledge, especially through the implicit emphasis for nurses to focus on evidence-based practices. The field of healthcare is evolving, and there will be a need to come up with novel ways of addressing emerging problems. However, new and untested treatment protocols should be approached with care to ensure that patients get quality care with the best outcomes. Therefore, nursing practice, education, and administration would be impacted by the findings. For instance, in practice, nurses should focus on evidence-based practices for improved patient outcomes.

Ethical Considerations

The authors did not mention whether the study was approved by an Institutional Review Board. However, all the forty children who participated in the study, together with their parents, gave written consent to participate in the study. There were no ethical considerations regarding the treatment because the process involved a change in behavior for the participants by restraining them from unhealthy foods.

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The thesis statement is important and congruent with this study. For instance, the thesis statement indicated that physical activity would avail better results in the management of childhood obesity as compared to physical inactivity. In this case, physical activity was avoided, and the focus shifted to the use of the CBM strategy, which did not yield significant results. Therefore, it suffices to conclude that physical activity is a better weight management strategy as compared to CBM.

From the study, it is clear that evidence-based practice plays an important role in ensuring better patient outcomes. The takeaway point here is that nurses and other caregivers should focus on proven ways to manage different health diseases. While some programs like physical activity may not be adequate, novel alternatives should be tested first for their efficiency.

The findings of this study are useful to nursing practice. The authors revealed that there is no evidence to back the theoretical claims that CBM training leads to decreased intake of calories among obese children. Therefore, the null findings underline the need for more research on the subject before this strategy can be adopted as a weight management program in childhood obesity.

In summary, this study has shown that CMB has not been proved as an effective strategy to address childhood obesity. This lack of evidence underscores the need for further research on the subject.


Verbeken, S., Boendermaker, W. J., Loeys, T., Moens, E., Goossens, L., Latomme, J., & Braet, C. (2018). Feasibility and effectiveness of adding an approach-avoidance training with game elements to a residential childhood obesity treatment – A pilot study. Behavior Change, 35(2), 91-107. Web.

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