Although practice guidelines suggest that primary care providers working with children and adolescents incorporate BMI surveillance and counseling into routine practice, the evidence base for this practice is unclear.
To determine the effect of brief, primary care interventions for pediatric weight management on BMI.
Medline, CENTRAL, Embase, PsycInfo, and CINAHL were searched for relevant publications from January 1976 to March 2016 and cross-referenced with published studies.
Eligible studies were randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies that compared the effect of office-based primary care weight management interventions to any control intervention on percent BMI or BMI z scores in children aged 2 to 18 years.
Two reviewers independently screened sources, extracted data on participant, intervention, and study characteristics, z-BMI/percent BMI, harms, and study quality using the Cochrane and Newcastle-Ottawa risk of bias tools.
A random effects model was used to pool the effect size across eligible 10 randomized controlled trials and 2 quasi-experimental studies. Compared with usual care or control treatment, brief interventions feasible for primary care were associated with a significant but small reduction in BMI z score (–0.04, [95% confidence interval, –0.08 to –0.01]; P = .02) and a nonsignificant effect on body satisfaction (standardized mean difference 0.00, [95% confidence interval, –0.21 to 0.22]; P = .98).
Studies had methodological limitations, follow-up was brief, and adverse effects were not commonly measured.
BMI surveillance and counseling has a marginal effect on BMI, highlighting the need for revised practice guidelines and the development of novel approaches for providers to address this problem.