A family-based weight loss randomized controlled trial for youth with intellectual disabilities

Pediatr Obes. 2021 Nov;16(11):e12816. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12816. Epub 2021 Jun 1.


Background: Scant data exist on weight loss interventions for youth with intellectual disabilities (ID).

Objective: To compare weight loss among youth with ID randomized to a 6-month, family-based behavioural intervention (FBBI) or a waitlist and to compare weight loss among youth who completed a 6-month maintenance (FBBI-M) intervention to a control group (FBBI-C).

Methods: Youth with ID and overweight/obesity, aged 14-22 years, were randomized to the FBBI or to a waitlist and subsequently randomized to a maintenance intervention or a control group. Sessions were held weekly during the FBBI and biweekly during the FBBI-M. Using an intention-to-treat approach, we used linear mixed models to test differences in the change in weight and in BMI from the start of FBBI.

Results: The 24 participants who received the FBBI lost, on average (SE), 5.1 (1.1) kg (P < .001) over 6 months. The 13 participants who were waitlisted gained, on average (SE), 1.2 (1.6) kg over the 6-month waiting period. At 12 months, those who received FBBI-M lost, on average (SE), 4.4 (1.7) kg more than those who received FBBI-C (-7.6 vs -3.2 kg, P-value = .008).

Conclusion: Participation in an intensive FBBI for weight loss with ID was efficacious, and continued participation in a maintenance intervention yielded additional weight loss.

Keywords: family-based behavioural intervention; intellectual disabilities; randomized control trial; weight loss; youth.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability* / therapy
  • Weight Loss