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J Pediatr Psychol. 1999 Jun;24(3):223-48.

Empirically supported treatments in pediatric psychology: pediatric obesity.

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  • 1Rhode Island Hospital, Providence 02903, USA.



To review the efficacy of existing interventions for pediatric obesity with reference to the Chambless criteria.


Chambless criteria for determining treatment efficacy were applied to 42 randomized studies involving nonschool-based programs targeting childhood and adolescent weight loss.


We summarize the following dimensions of the pediatric obesity treatment literature: description of participants, diagnostic criteria for study participation, experimental design, treatment protocol, treatment outcome, and follow-up.


There is strong evidence for the short- and long-term efficacy of multicomponential behavioral treatment for decreasing weight among children relative to both placebo and education-only treatments. Conclusions about adolescent obesity treatment programs are more tentative as they have been less frequently examined, less rigorously controlled, and usually have not conducted long-term follow-up. Current research appears to be working to identify more efficacious treatments for pediatric obesity by exploring the specific behavioral strategies that will be most effective in modifying children's eating and physical activity habits.

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