Inspiration for this article developed from a recent dietetic training period at a French hospital. The opinions shared in this post are solely my own. The name of this hospital will remain anonymous, but I can attest in my opinion that the health standards in this hospital (including hygiene, meals, nutritional care, patient satisfaction) were average to exemplary.
You can read other articles in this series here: French Hospital Chefs and Taste, a Battle with Dietitians, Chromodulated Chemotherapy to Treat Cancer , A Week in A French Hospital and Not Even Sick, and Ketogenic Diet to Treat Epilepsy.
In my last article, Part One, French kids are Obese, Why You Should Know How France is Slimming Down, I wrote on how France promotes early screening to detect and lower rates of obesity in French children. While it is important to detect obesity and obesity risk in children, a big part of solving the problem is taking action to do something about it.
The earlier the better.
Early screening, early action.
In this article, Part Two, I give you an example of taking action against obesity. A program offered in France, paid by the taxpayers.
France’s personalized weight loss program offered to obese children.
The Uniqueness of France’s RePOP Obesity Program that helps Frnch Obese Kids
I had the opportunity to discover this weight loss program during my training period at a local hospital.
RePOP Program is a multidisciplinary program, supported by the universal health care system and (thus) financed by taxpaying citizens. This program is offered to children less than 16 years old and whose BMI is greater than 97 percentile.
It offers a long-term plan with a personalized support system and goals established by the child, health professionals and parents.
So, why is it unique, you may ask?
Because this program, financed by the social security (universal healthcare system), supports a multidisciplinary approach. The patient receives multiple consultations by specialty health professionals over a two-year period. The child can take part in this program from a young age (early action) and can sign up as long as they take part in the universal healthcare system (most of the French population does).
By having early detection, we don’t have to wait until the child is morbidly obese or a teenager. RePOP is a preventive program.
RePOP program is a mix of health professionals, the child and the child’s family
Each year in France, thousands of children are screened for overweight and obesity. A child whose BMI is greater than 97 percentile could be offered inclusion in this program. The physician who screens that child and detects their candidacy coordinates with the child’s GP. The GP enrolls the child (with a written agreement by child and family) during the first two consultations. The doctor sees the patient once every 2-3 months over the next two years. The GP also coordinates and includes other health professionals to support this child’s weight plan: a dietitian, psychologist, physical therapist, gym teacher and nurse.
The care is done close to the child’s home. Included are 8 free dietetic consultations and 15 psychological consultations. Information is shared between health professionals on a secured computer program. The child has the opportunity with the family to participate in various workshops: gym classes, cooking classes, nutritional classes.
Each health professional, over the two-year period, looks to:
- Understand the constraints of the child’s environment-family habits, style of life and offer education in their area of specialty
- Understand the cultural habits of the child and family
- Not make the child or family feel guilty, hurt or stigmatized
- Continue with perseverance by accompanying the child (and his family) for the long-term
What are the goals for the patient in the RePOP program?
The main goals are to teach healthy living and at least stabilize the child’s weight. (In fact, the child doesn’t have to lose weight, or get to be a normal weight, but the goal is to encourage the child, with learning healthy living techniques, to stabilize their weight in the long-term). As the program is based on a multidisciplinary approach the patient’s education includes different areas of therapy: healthy eating, psychological support, physical education.
The care is done close to the child’s home. Included are 8 free dietetic consultations and 15 psychological consultations.
How to translate this program to any successful weight loss program?
My call to action:
To highlight a weight loss program that works. Apply it to your personal plans for you or your child, if applicable.
If you could get anything out of this article, here is what I would like it to be (the success points of any weight loss program):
- Early screening, early action
- Multidisciplinary approach
- Coordination of medical and educational therapy
- Personalized program
- Realistic goals
France, thanks to the taxpayers, puts their money where their mouth is: obese children have an opportunity to receive free of charge a personalized weight loss program that helps teach healthy living and stabilize their weight before it gets too late.
You can read more about the RePOP Program here: RePOP Program (in French)
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