Motivating the obese child to move: the role of structured exercise in pediatric weight management

South Med J. 1999 Jun;92(6):577-84. doi: 10.1097/00007611-199906000-00006.


Background: The prevalence of childhood obesity is rapidly increasing. Successful prevention and treatment of childhood obesity depends on increasing the physical activity patterns of obese youth. However, motivating the obese child to participate in physical activity is difficult.

Methods: We designed a four-phase physical activity intervention, consisting of a structured progressive exercise program of moderate intensity, along with motivational methods to increase physical activity and improve body movement awareness.

Results: Seventy-three overweight children participated in the weight management program. They had a significant weight loss and reduction in body fat, which was maintained at 1-year follow-up. Subjects also maintained lean body mass and showed improved physical activity patterns.

Conclusions: Progressive exercise, used in conjunction with nutrition and behavior modification, provides successful motivational strategies. These strategies encourage increased physical activity patterns, the adoption of regular structured exercise training, and the loss of excess body fat.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Weight Loss