The Contribution of mHealth in the Care of Obese Pediatric Patients

The Contribution of mHealth in the Care of Obese Pediatric Patients

Elpis Vlachopapadopoulou (Children's Hosp. P. A. Kyriakou, Greece) and Dimitrios I. Fotiadis (University of Ioannina, Greece )
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9861-1.ch007
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In this chapter the evolution of mHealth solutions for monitoring and treatment of children suffering from obesity is discussed. Nowadays, obesity emerges as a major chronic health condition that affects the general population, both children and adults. mhealth solutions are already used for self-management, remote monitoring and counseling of several chronic conditions, including diabetes mellitus, heart failure, Parkinson's disease, etc. Today, those solutions can result to closed loops, which support health self-management for chronic diseases, in a personalized manner. Concerning childhood obesity, those solutions can combine targeted games and motivational approaches towards both physical activity and diet, which could help in addressing this serious and global health issue, in the direction of minimizing co-morbidities and eventually preventing serious, life threatening events.
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During 1990s, in association with the extensive use of the internet, a variety of applications have developed using e-technology. The introduction of e-Health promised to improve health care delivery and health care access through increased availability of information and enhanced communication. Although the word used is “health” it refers to healthcare. There are several definitions for e-Health. Most of the definitions use technology as a tool to enable a process or improve function and as effective means to enhance human activities (Hans, 2005). The most commonly used definition is that of Eysenbach (2001).

mHealth is an abbreviation for mobile health, a term coined for the practice of medicine and public Health interventions, using mobile devices. mHealth broadly encompasses the use of mobile telecommunications and multimedia technologies, within or along with conventional health care delivery systems. mHealth, today, is closely related to smartphones, which can provide connectivity to various devices and provide a means for receiving the feedback from the healthcare professional.

A definition formulated during the 2010 mHealth Summit for the Foundation of the National Institute of Health defines mHealth as “the delivery of health care services via mobile communication devices”. We could differentiate mHealth and eHealth by elaborating on their fundamental functions, as eHealth supports health systems while mHealth provides healthcare access.

mHealth offers an unparalleled opportunity to reach individuals and implement changes. With mHealth applications, the individual is at the center and the most important link: the technology responds to an individual’s needs. Everything starts with the need of an individual, either a healthcare worker or a patient, in our case the patient, and the mobile technology application is viewed as the potential lever of the solution. Effective technologies are those that will undergo extensive modifications based on users needs.

Patient groups that can benefit include, but are not limited, to patients with asthma, diabetes, obesity, heart failure, neurogenerative diseases, multiple sclerosis, malignancies and bipolar disorders. In this chapter, we will review and elaborate on the published experience regarding interventions using mobile technology targeting childhood obesity, as well as, on the future potential, benefits and limitations of this emerging technology.

Childhood obesity is considered by the WHO as a new epidemic and has been characterized as the number one health problem worldwide (Ng, 2013). The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines target the reduction of total and abdominal obesity through increased physical activity and healthy nutrition (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011). Although, recent research has demonstrated the efficacy of these lifestyle changes on weight loss and weight maintenance as well as on the prevention of comorbidities, promotion and maintenance of such changes continues to be a challenge (Teixeira & Yun, 2015).

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