Motivational interviewing and dietary counseling for obesity in primary care: an RCT

Pediatrics. 2015 Apr;135(4):649-57. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-1880.


Background and objective: Few studies have tested the impact of motivational interviewing (MI) delivered by primary care providers on pediatric obesity. This study tested the efficacy of MI delivered by providers and registered dietitians (RDs) to parents of overweight children aged 2 through 8.

Methods: Forty-two practices from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings Network of the American Academy of Pediatrics were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups. Group 1 (usual care) measured BMI percentile at baseline and 1- and 2-year follow-up. Group 2 (provider only) delivered 4 MI counseling sessions to parents of the index child over 2 years. Group 3 (provider + RD) delivered 4 provider MI sessions plus 6 MI sessions from a RD. The primary outcome was child BMI percentile at 2-year follow up.

Results: At 2-year follow-up, the adjusted BMI percentile was 90.3, 88.1, and 87.1 for groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively. The group 3 mean was significantly (P = .02) lower than group 1. Mean changes from baseline in BMI percentile were 1.8, 3.8, and 4.9 across groups 1, 2, and 3.

Conclusions: MI delivered by providers and RDs (group 3) resulted in statistically significant reductions in BMI percentile. Research is needed to determine the clinical significance and persistence of the BMI effects observed. How the intervention can be brought to scale (in particular, how to train physicians to use MI effectively and how best to train RDs and integrate them into primary care settings) also merits future research.

Trial registration: NCT01335308.

Keywords: obesity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Counseling*
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Motivational Interviewing*
  • Nutritionists*
  • Parents / education
  • Parents / psychology
  • Pediatric Obesity / psychology
  • Pediatric Obesity / therapy*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • United States

Associated data