Inquiro Volumne 9 |2015 cover image

Kristina Tymes-Wilbekin1, 2, 3

Patrice L. Capers1
Austin Clark4, 5
Kathryn A. Kaiser1

1. Office of Energetics, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA
2. PARAdiGM Program, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA
3. Spelman College, Atlanta, GA, USA
4. Summer in Biomedical Sciences (SIBS) Undergraduate Research Program, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA
5. University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL, USA


Background: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged the growing epidemic of childhood obesity and, with it, the likelihood of an increasing percentage of obese adults in the coming years. This problem raises alarm because more people will be susceptible to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other weight-related illnesses. Thus far, effective interventions have proven elusive.

Methods: We conducted a meta-analysis of pediatric obesity behavioral interventions to examine the effect for improving weight/body composition. We reviewed 14 studies (total N = 3,363) that examined the effects of behavioral therapies on weight change (reduced weight gain while growing or reduced body fat percentage) in children. The studies included are randomized control trials (RCTs) from a prior systematic review that documented weight change as a primary or secondary outcome and were published between January 2007 and July 2009. Using standard meta-analytic methods, we quantified effects to determine whether behavioral therapies are effective in improving body weight/body composition in children.

Results: The overall standardized mean difference of -0.23 with a 95% Confidence Interval of -0.38 to -0.07 indicates that behavioral therapies do have a significant effect as an intervention for improving weight outcomes in children. There was significant heterogeneity present (I2 = 61%, p = 0.0003).

Conclusions: Behavioral interventions may be superior to other types of obesity interventions in children. Larger studies are warranted. These results may be utilized to treat patients, create policies and better inform the public. Future studies might increase intervention duration, which might improve maintenance of effects post-intervention. Keywords: pediatric obesity, behavioral intervention, weight maintenance, meta-analysis.


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Download the full article (PDF): The Effect of Behavioral Interventions on Body Weight in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis