Family therapy to treat childhood obesity

obese_children_americaShort- and long-term benefits were reported by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, in Pennsylvania.

First, the details.

  • 192 children (average BMI percentile for age and gender of 99) and their families were assigned randomly to treatment.
    • Special intervention
    • Usual care
  • Special intervention included of 20 1-hour group meetings from month 0 to 6.
    • Adult and child groups met separately and were given complementary material.
    • After being weighed the adult and child met with a lifestyle coach to review records and set weekly goals.
    • 6 booster sessions were provided between month 6 and 12, but no contact between the 12- and 18-month assessments.

And, the results.

  • Children in the intervention group had significant decreases in their percentage of overweight (-8%), relative to usual care (-1%), at 6 months.
  • No differences at 12 or 18 months.
  • Children in the intervention group who attended at least 75% of sessions maintained their improvement over 18 months.
  • Lower percent overweight at the start of the study, better attendance, higher income, and greater parent BMI reduction were associated with significantly greater improvement at 6 months among those in the intervention group.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded the intervention program showed benefit at 6 months. Children who attended at least 75% of the sessions had longer-term benefits in weight reduction.

Maintenance of weight losses among severely obese children may be difficult. “There is a compelling need to develop chronic care models for this high-risk population,” concluded the authors.

10/14/09 22:05 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.