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Do Childhood Obesity Interventions Help Improve Weight Management?

Researchers determine whether two childhood obesity interventions and links to community resources resulted in improved family-centered outcomes for childhood obesity.

A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics looked at the effectiveness of two childhood obesity interventions and links to community sources and whether they help improve weight management. The 2-arm, blinded, randomized clinical trial was conducted from June 2014 through March 2016 at six pediatric practices in Massachusetts. It included 721 children, ages 2 through 12, with a BMI in the overweight or obese range. They were randomized and assigned to one of two interventions: enhanced primary care or enhanced primary care and coaching.

Both interventions received educational materials focusing on specified behavioral targets to support self-guided changes. These changes included: decreasing screen time and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, improving diet quality, increasing moderate or vigorous physical activity, improving sleep quality and duration, and promoting social and emotional wellness.

The enhanced primary care intervention included monthly text messages to parents with links to publicly available resources to support behavioral change. It also included a Neighborhood Resource Guide listing supportive facilities in their communities.

The parents in the enhanced primary care and coaching group were contacted by trained health coaches who use a motivational interviewing style of counseling and shared decision-making techniques. These families also received additional educational materials after each coaching session as well as text messages or emails twice weekly. The parents were also offered a free, one-month family membership at local YMCAs and invited to attend a program on healthy grocery shopping led by Cooking Matters.

For this study, the researchers measured one-year changes in age and sex-specific body mass index (BMI) score, child health-related quality of life (QOL), and parental resource empowerment. Parents in the enhanced primary care plus coaching group reported improvements in their child’s health and both interventions led to improved parental resource empowerment.

The results of this study concluded that the two interventions improved family-centered outcomes for childhood obesity and improvements in child BMI. And while individualized health coaching led to improvements in health-related QOL, it did not have significantly greater effects on child BMI than enhanced primary care alone. It is evident that clinical practices, family support, and linking families and community resources are valuable tools for childhood obesity intervention.

Written by Christine Gison


Elsie M. Taveras, MD, MPH; Richard Marshall, MD; Mona Sharifi, MD, MPH, et al. Comparative Effectiveness of Clinical-Community Childhood Obesity Interventions: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatrics, June 2017 DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.1325



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