Effectiveness of family based behavioral treatment in an ethnically diverse sample of young children

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DOI: 10.1037/cpp0000452


Objective: Reducing obesity prevalence requires effective, early intervention. Yet, there is a paucity of research on effective family based behavioral treatments (FBBTs) for preschool-aged children, and youth from diverse ethnic backgrounds are underrepresented. Methodological issues also complicate the measurement of change in adiposity in young children. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a brief FBBT targeting diverse, underserved families. The study examined child weight over time and explored differential effectiveness of the program based on child age and ethnicity. The study additionally examined differences in outcomes based on adiposity measurement strategy. Methods: One hundred fifty-seven children with overweight/obesity (ages 2–9) and their families participated in a 6-week, no cost, group FBBT intervention at a large Midwestern children’s hospital. Parents were the primary targets of treatment, although the entire family attended sessions. Child height and weight were measured at baseline, end of treatment (6 weeks), and 6-month follow-up. Results: Children evidenced significant reductions in weight when measured by Body Mass Index z-score (zBMI) and percent of the 95th percentile. Young children (ages 2–5) had significantly higher zBMI at baseline, and experienced more significant reductions in zBMI over time, compared to older children. There were no significant differences in weight change based on ethnicity. Conclusions: This brief FBBT group intervention demonstrated effectiveness among ethnically diverse youth and was especially effective for young children.

Journal Title

Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology





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