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Changing the conversation about Childhood Obesity

4/8/2014 American Academy of Pediatrics and Kognito Launch Change Talk; an Innovative App to Address Childhood Obesity

CHICAGO, April 7, 2014 – Committed to the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight (IHCW) has partnered with New York-based Kognito, leaders in immersive learning experiences that drive positive change in health behaviors, to launch a new tool for pediatricians in the fight to reduce childhood obesity. Titled “Change Talk: Childhood Obesity,” the web-based module and mobile app, is designed to help health professionals utilize motivational interviewing (MI) techniques to navigate challenging family and patient conversations regarding childhood obesity.

Change Talk is a virtual practice environment in which health care providers assume the role of the virtual pediatrician and engage in a conversation where they decide what to say to a mother and her son who display individual personalities, emotions, and memories. Through the conversation, the user learns to apply MI techniques to help the virtual patient and family identify motivation for change, supporting them to implement modifications to their diet, screen time habits, and exercise routines. Change Talk is designed to realistically simulate the experience and behaviors of practicing professionals, patients, and caregivers in real life situations.

“Studies suggest that motivational interviewing is an effective model for engaging young patients and their families in conversations about changing behaviors associated with obesity, such as poor diet and lack of physical activity, but we know that successfully managing these conversations and seeing results can be challenging,” said Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, Medical Director of the AAP Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight. “Partnering with Kognito gives us the ability to introduce the first virtual practice environment for health professionals to learn, build, and apply motivational interviewing tactics when engaging in conversations with young patients and their families about necessary changes in their health behaviors”.

“Through this partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics we are able to expand the application of our science-driven technology and learning methodology to address the need to change behaviors of families and young patients who are at-risk for childhood obesity,” said Ron Goldman, CEO of Kognito. “Change Talk is our response to what healthcare professionals tell us is an important issue for them in their practices – how to motivate patients to adhere to treatment and adopt meaningful and positive behavior changes to improve their health.”

“We decided to make Change Talk a free resource for health professionals and the general public. Our vision and goal is to continue expanding this approach to address additional challenging conversations and scenarios that are aimed at reducing childhood obesity across the country,” added Dr. Hassink from the AAP.

Change Talk is built using the Kognito Conversation Platform™ that is based on research in neuroscience and social cognition. Over the past five years, Kognito has applied this platform to changing health behaviors around PTSD, substance abuse, and mental health among many different groups such as veterans, military families, healthcare professionals, educators, students, and adolescents.

Several empirical studies have shown that the Kognito simulations result in statistically significant and sustainable changes in attitude, skills, and behaviors. Three of Kognito’s simulations using the same learning methodology as Change Talk are listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP), making them the only online simulation-based learning experiences to be listed in the registry.

Change Talk is a free app and web resource available for download from the Apple App Store, Google Play™, and the Windows Store. The web version can be accessed at or


About AAP
The AAP Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight was launched in 2013, and serves as a translational engine for pediatric obesity prevention, assessment and treatment. The work of the Institute is supported by a diverse portfolio of funders, with Nestlé as the Founding Sponsor.

About Kognito
Founded in 2003, Kognito is a leader in immersive learning experiences that drive positive change in health behaviors. Kognito’s award-winning online and mobile simulations with virtual humans prepare individuals and professionals to effectively manage challenging conversations about health. Kognito uses a science-driven, research-proven approach and currently has more than 450 clients in education, government and healthcare settings. The company has been recognized for its evidence-based programs, and is the only company with online simulations listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Learn more and access demos at

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