Obese Children Have Sustained Benefit From Intervention

Ethnically diverse obese children show lasting effect two years after completion of treatment

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Obese children with ethnically diverse backgrounds benefit from an intensive lifestyle program, and these benefits can be sustained 12 months after completion of the program, according to a study published online Feb. 7 in Pediatrics.

Mary Savoye, R.D., C.D.E., from Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues analyzed data from 209 ethnically diverse, obese children aged 8 to 16, who had a body mass index (BMI) greater than the 95th percentile. Participants were randomized to a 12-month lifestyle intervention or clinic control group, and were followed up for another 12 months. The intervention group participated in a family-based program comprising twice weekly sessions for the first six months and twice monthly sessions for the second six months. The intervention focused on exercise, nutrition, and behavior modification.

The investigators found that 174 children completed the intervention or counseling for 12 months, and 76 were followed-up for two years. Compared to the control group, the lifestyle intervention group had a sustained treatment effect at 24 months for BMI z scores, BMI, percent body fat, total body fat mass, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance.

"This study is unique and, more importantly, unprecedented in that we targeted ethnically diverse children with very high BMIs. This gives us hope that behavior change is possible, even in the most challenging populations," the authors write.

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