Obesity Studies

Addressing Questions on Treatment and Prevention

More than one-third of adults and one in six children in the U.S. are considered to be obese. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) approved $9 million to fund two research studies on prevention and treatment of obesity.

Demonstrating PCORnet’s Capabilities

PCORnet’s unique infrastructure and capabilities are currently being tested by over a dozen different observational studies and interventional trials. Learn more about the obesity studies, as well as other demonstration studies underway.

One study examined three main methods of bariatric, or weight loss, surgery to provide patients and those who care for them with information on the comparative benefits and potential risks of each procedure. The other study looked at the effects on weight in later childhood when infants and young children were given different types of antibiotics.

Both studies used PCORnet, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, and its secure data network, to answer these questions. The research demonstrated PCORnet’s capacity to conduct observational research studies faster and with greater volumes of data than is possible through conventional ways of doing research, while ensuring patients’ privacy. Observational studies involve review and analysis of information on patients’ experiences with care collected in medical records.

Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric Surgery Study Generating Real-World Data to Support Informed Decisions Image that depicts three types of bariatric surgery: AGB, RYGB, and VSG

The PCORnet bariatric study examined three common types of bariatric surgery: gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding, and sleeve gastrectomy. The use of bariatric surgery to treat severe obesity has increased over the past 20 years, but there was inadequate evidence about the benefits, complications, potential risks, and other outcomes associated with each procedure. This is especially true for adolescents.

The two-year observational study aimed to address three specific objectives:

  • Compare how patients’ weight loss and regain differs across the three bariatric surgical procedures
  • Compare rates of diabetes improvements or relapse over time after surgery
  • Research the frequency of complications or harm following these procedures

The study reviewed data from records of 65,000 patients, with information on approximately 10,000 people with diabetes and 500 adolescents ages 12-19 who have had bariatric surgery. View the Bariatric Surgery Study award information and project poster.

Antibiotic Use in Infants and Obesity Study

A Parent Champions Obesity Research

The PCORnet study on childhood obesity looked at the relationship between antibiotic use in the first two years of life and weight gain in later childhood. Previous research has shown a link between the use of antibiotics, particularly wide-spectrum antibiotics, and an increased risk for obesity.

The observational study aimed to address three specific objectives:

  • Compare the effects of different types, timing, and amount of antibiotics used in the first two years of life with BMI and obesity at ages 5 and 10
  • Compare the effects of antibiotic use on rates and patterns of children’s growth during their first five years
  • Explore how different factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, geographical location, or characteristics of the mother, such as her BMI or type of delivery, may impact outcomes

The study assessed data from the records of nearly 700,000 patients to compare the effects of different types of antibiotics on children’s growth and weight at ages 5 and 10. It also looked at the effects of the frequency of the drugs’ use as well as other factors that could affect weight. The results will provide information to help patients, pediatricians, and other healthcare stakeholders make better informed decisions about using antibiotics in early childhood. View the Antibiotic Use in Infants and Obesity Study award information and project poster.

Patient Privacy

In each study, patients’ health records were maintained securely behind the firewalls of the individual health systems that make up the participating PCORnet partner networks. The research teams received general information combined from many records that were not linked to individual patients unless the patients agreed to share identified information.

PCORnet’s Role

PCORnet is an innovative initiative of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). PCORnet combined the knowledge and insights of patients, caregivers, and researchers in a collaborative network with carefully controlled access to rich sources of health data.

PCORnet is designed to allow a range of clinical research studies to be conducted more efficiently and less expensively than traditional research by harnessing the power of clinical data gathered in real-world patient care settings. Patients and family caregivers have a central role in deciding the rules under which PCORnet operates, including developing principles and processes for safeguarding data privacy and security as well as deciding what research questions to study.

Additional Resources

Last updated on February 14, 2018