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Addict Behav. 1994 Mar-Apr;19(2):135-45.

Effects of mastery criteria and contingent reinforcement for family-based child weight control.


This study tested the effects of mastery criteria and contingent reinforcement in a family-based behavioral weight control program for obese children and their parents over two years. Families with obese children were randomized to one of two groups. The experimental group was targeted and reinforced for mastery of diet, exercise, weight loss, and parenting skills. The control group was taught behavior-change strategies and provided noncontingent reinforcement at a pace yoked to the experimental group. Both groups received the same behavioral family-based educational components over 6 months of weekly meetings and six monthly follow-up meetings. Results showed significantly better relative weight change at 6 months and 1 year for children in the experimental compared to the control group, but these effects were not maintained at 2 years. These results suggest the introduction of mastery criteria and contingent reinforcement for mastery can improve outcome during treatment in behavioral treatments for childhood obesity.

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