BACKGROUND. Parenting-skills training may be an effective age-appropriate child behavior-modification strategy to assist parents in addressing childhood overweight.

OBJECTIVE. Our goal was to evaluate the relative effectiveness of parenting-skills training as a key strategy for the treatment of overweight children.

DESIGN. The design consisted of an assessor-blinded, randomized, controlled trial involving 111 (64% female) overweight, prepubertal children 6 to 9 years of age randomly assigned to parenting-skills training plus intensive lifestyle education, parenting-skills training alone, or a 12-month wait-listed control. Height, BMI, and waist-circumference z score and metabolic profile were assessed at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months (intention to treat).

RESULTS. After 12 months, the BMI z score was reduced by ∼10% with parenting-skills training plus intensive lifestyle education versus ∼5% with parenting-skills training alone or wait-listing for intervention. Waist-circumference z score fell over 12 months in both intervention groups but not in the control group. There was a significant gender effect, with greater reduction in BMI and waist-circumference z scores in boys compared with girls.

CONCLUSION. Parenting-skills training combined with promoting a healthy family lifestyle may be an effective approach to weight management in prepubertal children, particularly boys. Future studies should be powered to allow gender subanalysis.

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