The prevalence of obesity in American youth is increasing and treatment of the condition is difficult. We have developed a multi-disciplinary weight reduction program that extends over 1 y and includes a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) followed by a hypocaloric diet, exercise, and behavior modification. Based on data collected at baseline, at the end of the acute intervention phase (10-20 wk), and at 1-y evaluation, we assessed the efficacy of this outpatient weight reduction program in treating obese children and adolescents in a follow-up of a series of cases. Furthermore, we examined the impact of the approach on growth velocity and maintenance of weight loss at 1 y. Fifty-six overweight children (aged 7-17 y) were recruited during a period of 18 mo to participate in the weight management program; 52 (93%) completed the acute phase of treatment and 35 (62.5%) successfully completed the 1-y program. There was a significant decrease in body weight and body fat, as assessed by weight determinations and skinfold measurements (p <0.0001; results not corrected for age). The body mass index for the 35 individuals who completed the 1-y program decreased significantly from 32.7 on entry to 28.72 at 1 y (p < 0.0001; results not corrected for age).
Conclusion: We conclude that a multidisciplinary weight reduction program that combines a VLCD, followed by a balanced hypocaloric diet, with a moderate-intensity progressive exercise program and behavior modification is an effective means for weight reduction in obese children and adolescents.