Pediatrician-led motivational interviewing can be an effective way of controlling BMI in overweight children in the short term. Its long-term efficacy is unknown. The primary aim was to determine whether the short-term (12-month) impact of family pediatrician-led motivational interviews on the BMI of overweight children could be sustained in the long term (24 months), in the absence of any other intervention.


Children were recruited in 2011 by family pediatricians working in the province of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and randomly allocated to receive either 5 interviews delivered over a 12-month period or usual care. Eligible participants were all 4- to 7-year-old overweight children resident in the province of Reggio Emilia who had been receiving care from the pediatrician for ≥12 months. The primary outcome of this study was individual variation in BMI between the baseline visit and the 24-month follow-up, assessed by pediatricians not blinded to treatment group allocation.


Of 419 eligible families, 372 (89%) participated; 187 children were randomized to receive intervention and 185 to usual care. Ninety-five percent of the children attended the 12-month follow-up, and 91% attended the 24-month follow-up. After the 12-month intervention period, BMI in the intervention group increased less than in the control group (0.46 and 0.78, respectively; difference −0.32; P = .005). At the 24-month follow-up, the difference had disappeared (1.52 and 1.56, respectively; difference −0.04; P = .986).


The intervention lost its effectiveness within 1 year of cessation. Sustainable boosters are required for weight control and obesity prevention.

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