Is BMI alone a sufficient outcome to evaluate interventions for child obesity?

Child Obes. 2013 Aug;9(4):350-6. doi: 10.1089/chi.2013.0019. Epub 2013 Jun 15.


Background: BMI is often used to evaluate the effectiveness of childhood obesity interventions, but such interventions may have additional benefits independent of effects on adiposity. We investigated whether benefits to health outcomes following the Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do It! (MEND) childhood obesity intervention were independent of or associated with changes in zBMI.

Methods: A total of 79 obese children were measured at baseline; 71 and 42 participants were followed-up at 6 and 12 months respectively, and split into four groups depending on magnitude of change in zBMI. Differences between groups for waist circumference, cardiovascular fitness, physical and sedentary activities, and self-esteem were investigated.

Results: Apart from waist circumference and its z-score, there were no differences or trends across zBMI subgroups for any outcome. Independent of the degree of zBMI change, benefits in several parameters were observed in children participating in this obesity intervention.

Conclusion: We concluded that isolating a single parameter like zBMI change and neglecting other important outcomes is restrictive and may undermine the evaluation of childhood obesity intervention effectiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Self Concept
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Waist Circumference