Is family-based behavioral weight control appropriate for severe pediatric obesity?

Int J Eat Disord. 2001 Nov;30(3):318-28. doi: 10.1002/eat.1091.


Objective: Although the efficacy of family-based behavioral treatment for moderate pediatric obesity has been well established, few studies have focused on the treatment of severe obesity. We sought to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of a family-based intervention for severely obese children.

Method: Twenty-four families with children aged 8-12 years who were > or =160% of their ideal body weight participated in a 10-12-session behavioral intervention. Participants were weighed and their heights measured at the start of each treatment session and during a follow-up visit 4-13 (M = 7.8) months posttreatment. Children also completed measures of depressive symptoms and anxiety at pretreatment, posttreatment, and follow-up, and eating attitudes were assessed at pretreatment and follow-up.

Results: One third of the families did not complete treatment. However, children who completed the program lost a significant amount of weight and reported significant improvements in depression, anxiety, and eating attitudes that were maintained over time.

Discussion: A short-term, family-based behavioral intervention was successful in moderating weight gain for most children and had positive effects on children's mood and eating disorder symptoms. Future randomized, controlled trials of longer interventions are necessary to determine the success of this approach.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Attitude
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Depression
  • Family Therapy*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss