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The treatment of obesity for children in low income families : a study of the social worker's role in a clinical setting Watt, Frances Meta


This study reviews the methods and degree of success of treatment for obese children at the newly-founded Metabolic Clinic at the Vancouver Health Centre for Children. The Clinic has confined itself to the treatment of children from low-income families. The extent and significance of emotional and physical maladjustments is related to the causes of obesity and the efficacy of treatment given; this indicates the considerable significance of social casework as a treatment aid. Current doctrines on the causes and attendant problems associated with obesity in children are reviewed as a background against which to evaluate the Clinic, drawing heavily for this purpose on the experience and findings of Dr. Hilde Bruch in her work with a clinic in New York. The specific evaluation of the work of the Clinic is made through case, summaries and illustrations. (The writer worked at the Clinic during the school session and during the summer of 1950.) A tentative statistical interpretation of the progress with the twenty-six cases, treated during this period, is made in terms of the percentage of weight loss or gain in relation to the amount by which each child exceeds the estimated normal weight. The very limited extent, to which treatment of individual cases has been successful leads to rather negative conclusions. The importance of clinical teamwork and particularly of social casework in diagnosis of the underlying causes of the patient’s obese condition is clear. But the degree to which the clinical team's efforts can take effect depends upon the amount of cooperation which it is possible to obtain from the patient and his family. Evaluation must bear in mind that the format ion of a MetaboLic Clinic for children at Vancouver is of very recent origin. It is concerned with the treatment of a condition about which medical science has not hitherto devoted much attention, so that the Clinic work must be seen as the exploratory and pioneer.

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