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Trajectories of Obesity and Overweight Rates Among Survivors of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Megan R. Winkler
Marilyn J. Hockenberry
Kathy S. McCarthy
Susan G. Silva
ONF 2015, 42(4), E287-E293 DOI: 10.1188/15.ONF.E287-E293

Purpose/Objectives: To describe the trajectories of obesity/overweight rates by age group among survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) from diagnosis through several years post-therapy.

Design: Longitudinal, descriptive.

Setting: Hematology/oncology clinic in the southwestern United States.

Sample: 62 child and adolescent ALL survivors receiving treatment and follow-up care from 1999–2013.

Methods: Retrospective chart review of height, weight, and body mass index.

Main Research Variables: Annual obesity/overweight rates and developmental age groups.

Findings: Different trajectories of obesity/overweight rates existed among age groups. Forty-seven percent of adolescents met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for obesity/overweight status at some point following diagnosis, compared to 68% of school-age and 73% of preschool children. Preschool children demonstrated the most rapid rate increase following diagnosis, with a particularly susceptible period in the years immediately following therapy. Obesity/overweight persistence was most characteristic of school-age children.

Conclusions: Important variations in rate and pattern of weight status trajectories exist by age group, demonstrating that children diagnosed with ALL during the preschool and school-age developmental years have the greatest vulnerability of developing obesity/overweight status.

Implications for Nursing: Obesity/overweight prevention efforts are greatly needed in children with ALL, and efforts should occur before ALL treatment completion in preschool and school-age children.

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