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JAMA. 2007 Oct 10;298(14):1661-73.

Efficacy of maintenance treatment approaches for childhood overweight: a randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.



No trials for childhood overweight have examined maintenance interventions to augment the effects of initial weight loss programs.


To determine the short-term and long-term efficacy of 2 distinct weight maintenance approaches vs no continued treatment control following standard family-based behavioral weight loss treatment for childhood overweight, and to examine children's social functioning as a moderator of outcome.


A parallel-group, randomized controlled trial conducted between October 1999 and July 2004 in a university-based weight control clinic. Participants were 204 healthy 7- to 12-year-olds, 20% to 100% above median body mass index (BMI) for age and sex, with at least 1 overweight parent. Children enrolled in 5 months of weight loss treatment and 150 were randomized to 1 of 3 maintenance conditions. Follow-up assessments occurred immediately following maintenance treatments and 1 and 2 years following randomization.


Maintenance conditions included the control group or 4 months of behavioral skills maintenance (BSM) or social facilitation maintenance (SFM) treatment.


BMI z score and percentage overweight.


Children receiving either BSM or SFM maintained relative weight significantly better than children assigned to the control group from randomization to postweight maintenance (P< or =.01 for all; effect sizes d = 0.72-0.96; mean changes in BMI z scores = -0.04, -0.04, -0.05, and 0.05 for BSM alone, SFM alone, BSM and SFM together, and the control group, respectively). Active maintenance treatment efficacy relative to the control group declined during follow-up, but the effects of SFM alone (P = .03; d = 0.45; mean change in BMI z score = -0.24) and when analyzed together with BSM (P = .04; d = 0.38; mean change in BMI z score = -0.22) were significantly better than the control group (mean change in BMI z score = -0.06) when examining BMI z score outcomes from baseline to 2-year follow-up. Baseline child social problem scores moderated child relative weight change from baseline to 2-year follow-up, with low social problem children in SFM vs the control group having the best outcomes.


The addition of maintenance-targeted treatment improves short-term efficacy of weight loss treatment for children relative to no maintenance treatment. However, the waning of effects over follow-up, although moderated by child initial social problems, suggests the need for the bolstering of future maintenance treatments to sustain effects.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Identifier: NCT00301197.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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