Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is ranked third in the 2016 U.S. News and World Report survey of best children’s hospitals. The 598-bed facility is also home to the Center for Better Health and Nutrition, one of the largest pediatric weight management programs in the country. They focus on addressing the health concerns of obese and overweight youth through comprehensive, family-based treatment. Patients receive tailored exercise and dietary regimens specific to their individual needs. Cincinnati Children’s is also involved in research to help advance the science of obesity prevention and treatment in youth.
Christopher Kist is an exercise physiologist at The Center for Better Health and Nutrition. He specializes in counseling children on exercise, healthy eating and making better lifestyle choices. Kist is also an expert in nutritional biochemistry, diabetology, and nutrition and dietetics.
Cincinnati Children’s and Christopher Kist are real InBody customers and were not paid to do a testimonial.
The Childhood Obesity Challenge
According to a 2016 study, nearly one in three children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese. To fight this epidemic, Cincinnati Children’s deploys teams of employees throughout the Tri-State area. Their goal is simple: Get obese kids to enroll at the Center, improve their eating habits, and motivate them to exercise more.
Once a child is enrolled in the program, Kist and his team track each patient’s progress by taking circumference measurements every few months. But they soon found themselves running into two problems:
- The circumference measurements were all over the place. There was no consistency in the data, making it hard for Kist and his team to accurately see each child’s progress and trust that the numbers were correct.
- Many of the patients were growing taller, exercising more, and eating better; however their weights on the scale remained the same – or worse, their weights increased. There was no way of showing his patients or their parents that there were actually positive internal changes happening in their bodies that led to weight gain, such as increases in muscle mass.
Something needed to change in the way they were measuring these children’s health, especially if they wanted to battle against an increasing population of overweight and obese youth.
Weighing the Options
Cincinnati Children’s quickly recognized that they needed to base their patients’ success off something other than weight and circumference measurements. These numbers were just simply not enough. Kist and his team needed a device that would reveal what was happening inside each patient’s body, a tool that could measure the changes in fat and muscle.
So, Cincinnati Children’s purchased an RJL body composition analyzer in hopes of getting more helpful data to better assist their patients. The RJL could measure muscle and fat mass, but the children found all the wires on the device intimidating. Soon, it became hard to motivate the children to continuously measure their body composition. The hospital considered purchasing DEXA scanners and BodPods but decided against them after considering the cost and the amount of space the devices would occupy.
“Our hospital is so big; we can’t just send people to different places to get different tests done,” said Kist.
“We needed something that we could put in our clinic so our patients wouldn’t have to go all over town for different measurements we wanted.”
Cincinnati Children’s needed a device that would be more accurate than circumference measurements, be able to provide fast, detailed body composition analysis without scaring off the kids or breaking the bank, and be small enough so that it wouldn’t take up half of the room. That’s when they found InBody.
Consistency is Key
Kist first saw the InBody body composition analyzer at an expo and decided to give InBody a test run at the hospital. Turns out, InBody was what the team was looking for all along.
“We got very consistent results from the InBody and we could see consistent changes in our patients as they got older and stronger,” said Kist. “We would see the decreases in weight and increases in lean body mass and we’ve been using it ever since.”
Cincinnati Children’s has been using InBody products since 2012. They currently own seven InBody 230s, one InBody 270 and one InBody 370. InBody devices have been integrated into Cincinnati Children’s standard procedure.
“We’ve stuck with InBody because they’re dependable,” said Kist. “It was well received by the kids. They thought it looked like a spaceship and it was definitely less intimidating, so they would hop right on it.”
When patients visit Kist and his team, they have their height, weight and InBody recorded on their charts. The new procedure has been well received by the staff because of the device’s simplicity.
“There’s no room for error, you enter the height, age and gender and you get the results. If we can get the height right, everything else is going to be consistent. We can have more staff use the InBody because it’s so easy.”
Since implementing InBody, Cincinnati Children’s has been able to track consistent, measurable changes in body composition as kids go through the program. Kist and his team are able to see if the programs are benefitting the children and monitor the changes in weight from muscle gain and fat loss.
Shown above is the Muscle-Fat analysis graph that reveals how much of a user’s weight is Skeletal Muscle Mass and Body Fat Mass. The bar graphs extend to show pounds of each type of body composition as well as if the numbers are under, normal, or over the recommended amount for that user.
“When we got the InBody, we were hoping to see consistent measurable changes in body composition and lean body mass,” said Kist.
“We’ve seen consistent numbers across the different models and have gotten clear results that are easy to interpret. We’re finally getting consistent changes that are measurable and now, we can say these are positive outcomes.”
Education and Results Interpretation is a Family Affair
All of Cincinnati Children’s patients come with their parents, and the ones who get their whole family on board with the program tend to be the most successful. Kist and his team educate parents on the changes they need to be making for the whole house since the kids typically aren’t buying and cooking the food. But this also means the parents are as disappointed as their children when they see no changes in weight.
“With InBody, we can tell a parent, ‘hey look, the number on a scale is exactly the same but your kid is getting stronger, they’ve lost body fat and they got taller as well. There can be improvements without seeing improvements on a regular scale.”
This helps keep parents and patients involved and motivated to keep exercising, eating better and making the lifestyle changes they need to make in order to become healthier individuals.
Parents and patients also love that InBody results sheets are printed on a piece of paper so they can learn what’s happening and see their changes over time.
“As kids grow, they gain weight so sometimes there’s no change in BMI but they’ve decreased their body fat percentage and increased their lean body mass,” said Kist. “These are changes we wouldn’t have known without an InBody.”
Measuring success and making changes for life
Kist and his team measure success in a number of different ways; it’s not just numbers on a scale. They look at everything, from self-esteem to cholesterol to family engagement. But the improvements in percent body fat and decreases in overall fat levels and improvements in lean body mass are the ones that reveal if a patient is actually making lifestyle changes, eating better and exercising more.
“It’s very important that we find something positive at every visit, especially if the patient is struggling,” said Kist. “We get to say ‘hey look, you’re struggling here and you’re struggling here, but your percent body fat is down and you’re getting stronger.”
Shown above is the Body Composition History chart that tracks the changes of a user’s body composition over time. Being able to track changes is an important part of any person’s health journey because it provides a wholistic view of what they’ve been able to achieve.
“InBody gives us another way to measure success for these kids.”
Like any organization, Cincinnati Children’s has adjusted their procedures within their practice. They’ve swapped inaccurate circumference measurements for body composition and haven’t looked back– for good reason.
With InBody now integrated into their programs, Cincinnati Children’s is able to get consistent, accurate body composition data and provide that on a result sheet for patients to take home. No more random fluctuations in data. No more intimidating devices that deter patients from measuring their body composition.
Cincinnati Children’s is now able to monitor the changes in patients’ body composition as the children grow, teaching them that it’s not about weight or measurements around the body. Getting healthy is about monitoring the changes within the body and keep track of how better lifestyle choices can improve the body from the inside out.
“Some of our patients come back as adults and say, ‘I became a healthier adult from the tools and education you gave me,’” said Kist. “And they’ve carried this through their adulthood.”
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