Intervention for childhood obesity based on parents only or parents and child compared with follow-up alone

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Abstract

Objectives

The study aims to assess the effects of family-based interventions targeted to parents only or to parents-and-child for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity.

Method

An open-label randomized study was conducted in 247 children (166 girls, 5–11 years) with body mass index (BMI) in the 85–98th percentile. Participants were allocated to three groups: parents-only (n = 89), parents-and-child (n = 84) and follow-up alone (n = 74). The intervention consisted of 12 once-weekly meetings with a dietician and psychologist. All children were followed for 2 years. Changes in anthropometric, clinical and lifestyle outcomes were assessed.

Results

The 3-month intervention was completed by 58 (65.2%) in the parents-only, 61 (72.6%) in the parents–child and 49 (66.2%) in the control group (P = .554). BMI-standard deviation score (SDS) decreased from baseline to 3 months in both intervention groups (parents-only: from 1.74 ± 0.31 to 1.66 ± 0.36, P < .001; parents–child, 1.83 ± 0.33 to 1.76 ± 0.36, P = .012), with no significant change in the controls (1.73 ± 0.32 to 1.70 ± 0.31, P = .301). The 2-year follow-up was completed by 45 in each of the intervention groups (50.5% and 53.5%, respectively) and 37 controls (50%) (P = .896). Compared with baseline, only the parents–child group showed a significant decrease in BMI-SDS (1.56 ± 0.46, P = .006). The rate of children who met the criteria for metabolic syndrome tended to drop from 6.0% at baseline (14/232) to 1.5% at 3 months (12/137) (P = .109), with no significant between-group differences in the rate of metabolic syndrome at baseline or at completion of the intervention.

Conclusions

An intervention programme that focuses on both parents and children was found to have positive short-term and long-term effects on BMI-SDS.

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