Targeting parents exclusively in the treatment of childhood obesity: long-term results

Obes Res. 2004 Feb;12(2):357-61. doi: 10.1038/oby.2004.45.


Objective: To report the long-term change in children's overweight following a family-based health-centered approach where only parents were targeted compared with a control intervention where only children were targeted.

Research methods and procedures: Fifty of the 60 children who participated in the original study were located 7 years later, and their weight and height were measured. At the point of the 7-year follow-up, the children were 14 to 19 years of age. Repeated measure ANOVA was used to test differences between the groups in percent overweight at different time-points.

Results: Mean reduction in percent overweight was greater at all follow-up points in children of the parent-only group compared with those in the children-only group (p < 0.05). Seven years after the program terminated, mean reduction in children's overweight was 29% in the parent-only group vs. 20.2% in the children-only group (p < 0.05).

Discussion: Over the long term, treatment of childhood obesity with the parents as the exclusive agents of change was superior to the conventional approach.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents* / psychology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome