Intervention in overweight children improves body mass index (BMI) and physical activity

Violet Siwik, Randa Kutob, Cheryl Ritenbaugh, Luis Cruz, Janet Senf, Mikel Aickin, Scott Going, Andrew Shatte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in family medicine with few clinical treatment options. We implemented and evaluated a group office-visit intervention by family physicians for overweight children and their parents, emphasizing nutrition and physical activity within a resiliency psychosocial model. Methods: The intervention lasted for 3 months, with half of the children crossing over to intervention after 6 months in the study. Participants included 35 children who met eligibility criteria of being in third through fifth grades and having a body mass index (BMI) above the 85th percentile. The 3-month, 12-session intervention, "Choices," included topics on nutrition, physical activity, and resiliency. The sessions were developed for delivery by a family physician and a nutritionist who received training in positive psychology and resilience skills. Main outcome measures were BMI z scores for age and sex and z scores for weight by age and sex, as well as qualitative interviews to understand individual and family processes. Results: The intervention resulted in a significant effect on one primary outcome, BMI z score (- 0.138 per 9 months [P = .017]) and a trend toward significance on the weight for age z score (- 0.87 per 9 months [P = .09]). The net shift of activity from the low metabolic equivalents (METs) to the high METs had an intervention effect of 2.84 METs (P = .037). Families reported lasting changes in behaviors and attitudes. Discussion: The innovative approach used in this study demonstrated modest efficacy in reducing BMI z score, changing physical activity levels, and possibly shifting family dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-137
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Child nutrition
  • Family health
  • Intervention
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Sedentary lifestyle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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