Objective: Many approaches have been tried in order to tackle the problem of obesity in children, but most of them have failed to achieve long-term weight loss. Cognitive behaviour therapy tends to predict good prospects. So far, no studies have investigated the surplus value of introducing a "healthy-eating" lifestyle program instead of a strict diet prescription, in combination with the principles of cognitive behaviour therapy. Therefore, a new program was designed. The second aim of the study was to evaluate the impact of different forms of therapeutic contact.
Subjects and methods: The obese group consisted of 205 children seeking treatment, and a control group of 54 obese school children. The effects of the program were evaluated by means of a pre-test/post-test design with a 1-y follow-up. Subjects were assigned to different therapeutic conditions: group therapy, individual therapy, summer camp or "advice in one session".
Results: A progressive and significant loss of weight for all therapeutic conditions was noticeable. The reduction continued at least 6 months after completing therapy. The control group, however, showed weight evolution in the opposite sense.
Conclusions: A replication of the positive effect of CBT was found in a broad sample of clinically obese children, even without strict diet prescription. Our hypothesis that group approach will result in a better outcome is borne out.