BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

Clinic-based programs for childhood obesity are not available to a large proportion of the population. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a guided self-help treatment of pediatric obesity (GSH-PO) compared with a delayed treatment control and to evaluate the impact of GSH-PO 6-months posttreatment.

METHODS:

Fifty overweight or obese 8- to 12-year-old children and their parents were randomly assigned to immediate treatment or to delayed treatment. The GSH-PO includes 12 visits over 5 months and addresses key components included in more intensive clinic-based programs. Children and parents in the immediate treatment arm were assessed at time 1 (T1), participated in GSH-PO between T1 and T2, and completed their 6-month posttreatment assessment at T3. Children and parents in the delayed treatment arm were assessed at T1, participated in GSH-PO between T2 and T3, and completed their 6-month posttreatment assessment at T4. The main outcome measures were BMI, BMI z score, and percentage overweight (%OW).

RESULTS:

Children in the immediate treatment GSH-PO arm decreased their BMI significantly more than did the delayed treatment arm (BMI group × time = −1.39; P < .001). Similar results were found for BMI z score and %OW. At the 6-month posttreatment assessment, changes resulting from GSH-PO were maintained for BMI z score and %OW but not BMI (BMI time effect = −0.06, not significant; BMI z score time effect = −0.10, P < .001; %OW time effect = −4.86, P < .05).

CONCLUSIONS:

The GSH-PO showed initial efficacy in decreasing BMI for children in this study. Additional efficacy and translational studies are needed to additionally evaluate GSH-PO.

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