02.05.2023 | Insight
eHCPs divided on new guidelines and challenges facing paediatric obesity
eHCPs were divided over the new clinical guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Many shared their excitement at the new treatment possibilities, largely in the form of Wegovy. However, there was a level of scepticism that came with the guidelines, with some eHCPs believing them to be too reactive and did not get to the heart of obesity being a chronic disease stemming from a multitude of factors.
Using CREATION Pinpoint®, our powerful online HCP conversation insights tool, we have been able to assess the global eHCP conversation surrounding paediatric obesity from 01 January 2022 to 20 March 2023. Over 4,500 eHCPs have used their social media profiles to discuss paediatric obesity, with their posts culminating in almost 12,000 mentions of paediatric obesity since the start of 2022. With eHCP paediatric obesity posts coming from over 100 countries in this study, it was the United States that was the most active, with more than 30% of the authors being based there. Other major markets included the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, India and Australia. This particular analysis was specifically assessing the English language conversation.
The eHCP paediatric obesity conversation was driven largely by events in the calendar that drew attention to the systemic issue of obesity. This included World Obesity Days, 2022 – ‘Everybody Needs to Act’ and 2023 -‘Changing Perspectives: Let’s Talk About Obesity’, where eHCPs discussed the latest scientific findings surrounding the disease. However, the biggest catalyst for conversation amongst eHCPs was the new guidelines published by The American Academy of Pediatrics at the beginning of 2023.
The 2023 clinical practice guidelines from The American Academy of Pediatrics were, for the most part, well received by eHCPs. The inclusion of pharmacotherapy for paediatric obesity in the new clinical practice guidelines generated much conversation amongst eHCPs. Many eHCPs had tracked Wegovy’s journey, and prior to its approval for paediatric patients were describing the results of clinical studies as “compelling (and exciting)”. eHCPs referenced the benefit of Wegovy’s approval for the treatment of paediatric patients, particularly in the context of obesity as a chronic and complex medical condition.
It is worth noting that a consistent theme amongst guideline posts was that eHCPs first need to see efforts being made for lifestyle changes within the population prior to medication. With many eHCPs stating that medical products are a new and advantageous string to a primary HCPs’ bow, some expressed that this should not be the only weapon in the arsenal of an HCP hoping to combat paediatric obesity.
Additionally, regarding the clinical guidelines, eHCPs expressed their concern that with the easier access to pharmacotherapy this may limit the uptake of preventive approaches – mainly lifestyle changes. Furthermore, some eHCPs expressed their concern that with the introduction of pharmaceutical products to the paediatric treatment landscape, young people would face the same challenges still rife in the adult obesity population.
Many eHCPs, primarily paediatricians, looked towards prevention of obesity in children as opposed to treating obesity. eHCPs suggested ways in which parents could be best informed to help support their children surrounding the issue of weight. This often focused on tactics including moral support, encouraging exercise, less sugary drinks and minimising food associations with screen time.
During the eHCP conversation analysis surrounding paediatric obesity, the growing tension between eHCPs regarding how to counter childhood obesity was unmistakable. Some eHCPs hold the belief that there is a growing trend towards “normalising obesity” and cited the dangers of obesity being seen as healthy, with emphasis being placed on parents to ensure they are doing their best to discourage obesity in children. Other HCPs wished to promote a more inclusive ‘body image’ for young people amidst a world of growing stigma and encouraged people to recognise research showing a relationship between weight gain, childhood trauma, abuse and neglect, which should be approached with sensitivity. Although the interventions differ between both ‘sides’ of the argument, it is clear that all eHCPs engaging with the online conversation of paediatric obesity wish to help children facing the challenges of the disease.
Blaming rising childhood obesity on climate change is next level absurd.
How about the fact we have generated a lazy society with electronics and the cancellation of activities from nonsensical Covid policy? https://t.co/nn5No026WH
— Nicole Saphier, MD (@NBSaphierMD) August 13, 2022
Many eHCPs believe a voice that should not be dismissed in this conversation is that of the young people themselves. The CO-CREATE Project – shared by multiple eHCPs across various roles – aims to create policy alongside young people, giving them a voice in policy and research on childhood obesity prevention. eHCPs and researchers were excited by the project and will be sure to monitor developments in this area which could be an important step in the right direction for young people to be engaged and empowered in tackling obesity.
From studying which sources, guidelines and voices are influencing eHCP conversation and prescription behaviours, it is clear that eHCPs are passionate to develop policy which will holistically benefit young people. In addition to offering pharmacotherapy as a treatment option to young people there are also additional strategies such as extra physical education classes, more family health centres and school lunch programs that could be supported to help paediatric obesity cases.
If you would like help to consider how the online conversation should be shaping your policy, communication or marketing activities, please get in touch.