Objective: This study evaluates the post-treatment and short-term follow-up efficacy of, as well as participant satisfaction for, a 4-month behavioral weight control program for overweight adolescents initiated in a primary care setting and extended through telephone and mail contact.
Research methods and procedures: 44 overweight adolescents were randomly assigned to either a multiple component behavioral weight control intervention (Healthy Habits [HH]; n = 23) or a single session of physician weight counseling (typical care [TC]; n = 21). Weight, height, dietary intake, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and problematic weight-related and eating behaviors and beliefs were assessed before treatment, after the 4-month treatment, and at 3-month follow-up. Participant satisfaction and behavioral skills use were measured.
Results: HH adolescents evidenced better change in body mass index z scores to post-treatment than TC adolescents. Body mass index z scores changed similarly in the conditions from post-treatment through follow-up. Behavioral skills use was higher among HH than TC adolescents, and higher behavioral skills use was related to better weight outcome. Energy intake, percentage of calories from fat, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and problematic weight-related or eating behaviors/beliefs did not differ by condition or significantly change over time independent of condition. The behavioral intervention evidenced good feasibility and participant satisfaction.
Discussion: A telephone- and mail-based behavioral intervention initiated in primary care resulted in better weight control efficacy relative to care typically provided to overweight adolescents. Innovative and efficacious weight control intervention delivery approaches could decrease provider and participant burden and improve dissemination to the increasing population of overweight youth.