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Transition to adult care in adolescent obesity: a systematic review and why it is a neglected topic


Transition in pediatric health care involves the purposeful, planned movement of patients from pediatric to adult services. Following the significant increases in long-term survival of chronic childhood diseases in the 1980s, transition has taken on an increasing importance in the management of these chronic diseases. In Australia, there is a conspicuous lack of programs/guidelines for transitioning adolescents with obesity. The authors sought to determine if this is an international phenomenon that should be addressed. This study aimed to identify what formal transition services or guidelines exist internationally for adolescents with overweight/obesity. Two systematic reviews of the published and ‘gray’ literature were implemented via searches of relevant databases, search engines and websites. The primary review eligibility criteria were documents published between 1982 and 2012 including any aspect of transitioning adolescents with overweight/obesity from pediatric to adult weight management services. The secondary review included current clinical practice guidelines/statements on pediatric obesity management published between 1992 and 2012, and transition recommendations contained within. Non-English language documents were excluded. Relevant text from eligible documents was systematically identified and extracted, and a qualitative synthesis of the data was prepared. Overall, 2272 unique records were identified from the literature searches. Three eligible articles were identified by the primary review. The secondary review identified 24 eligible guidelines/statements. In total, six of the identified documents contained information on transition in adolescent obesity—the most detailed documents provided only a brief statement recommending that transition from pediatric to adult weight management services should take place. In conclusion, internationally there is an absence of published intervention programs/policies, and brevity of clinical guidance and expert opinion, on the transition of adolescents with obesity making this a priority research area. Consideration is given to the reasons why transition in adolescent obesity is a neglected topic.

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This review was supported in part by the Marie Bashir Fellowship Program, Academic Department of Adolescent Medicine and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

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Correspondence to V A Shrewsbury.

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Shrewsbury, V., Baur, L., Nguyen, B. et al. Transition to adult care in adolescent obesity: a systematic review and why it is a neglected topic. Int J Obes 38, 475–479 (2014).

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  • adolescent
  • transition to adult care
  • review
  • practice guideline

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