The prevalence of overweight and obesity is approximately 32% among children and adolescents in the United States. Comorbid conditions associated with pediatric overweight and obesity include psychiatric conditions. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents presenting for consultation from rural communities to the UC Davis Telemedicine Program (UCDTP), as well as to collect preliminary data to design an integrated disease management program for children and adolescents with obesity and mental illness. Patients aged 21 and under seen for psychiatric consultation at the UCDTP between 2004 and 2006 were included. Retrospective medical record review was conducted to determine the major psychiatric diagnoses, height, weight, body–mass index, and weight status (underweight/at risk for underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese) for each patient. Of the 230 patients referred, a total of 121 patients had both height and weight values documented. Three patients were underweight; 51 were normal weight; 28 were overweight; 39 were obese. The most common psychiatric diagnoses in the 121 patients were attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; n=40), bipolar disorder (n=36), and depression (n=31). The most common psychiatric diagnoses in patients with available weight and height data who were overweight and obese were bipolar disorder (n=20), depression (n=18), and ADHD (n=17). Approximately 55% of child and adolescent patients seen for telepsychiatry consultation whose charts documented height and weight measurements were overweight or obese. Psychiatric diagnoses in overweight youngsters need to be researched further to determine whether the weight change is primary or secondary to mood and/or to treatments, such as medication. At such a high rate of comorbidity, monitoring the weight status of young psychiatric patients in this population is indicated.
Key words: telepsychiatry, rural children, pediatric overweight and obesity, psychiatric medications