Context: Few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions for the treatment of childhood obesity have taken place outside the Western world.
Aim: To test whether a good practice intervention for the treatment of childhood obesity would have a greater impact on weight status and other outcomes than a control condition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Methods: Assessor-blinded RCT of a treatment intervention in 107 obese 7- to 11-year olds. The intervention was relatively low intensity (8 hours contact over 26 weeks, group based), aiming to change child sedentary behavior, physical activity, and diet using behavior change counselling. Outcomes were measured at baseline and six months after the start of the intervention. Primary outcome was BMI z-score, other outcomes were weight change, health-related quality of life (Peds QL), objectively measured physical activity and sedentary behavior (Actigraph accelerometry over 5 days).
Results: The intervention had no significant effect on BMI z score relative to control. Weight gain was reduced significantly in the intervention group compared to the control group (+1.5 kg vs. +3.5 kg, respectively, t-test p < 0.01). Changes in health-related quality of life and objectively measured physical activity and sedentary behavior favored the intervention group.
Conclusions: Treatment was associated with reduced rate of weight gain, and improvements in physical activity and quality of life. More substantial benefits may require longer term and more intensive interventions which aim for more substantive lifestyle changes.