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Kids' Weight Maintenance Plans Less Effective Over Time

Programs successful compared to control for four months, less encouraging over years

TUESDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Weight-maintenance programs helped children control their weight over a four-month period following weight-loss treatment, although these effects waned over long-term follow-up, according to research presented in the Oct. 10 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Denise Wilfley, Ph.D., of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues examined data from 150 overweight children, aged 7 to 12 years, who underwent a five-month, family-based weight-loss treatment. Following the weight-loss period, the children were randomized to either a control group, or one of two maintenance programs: one with a cognitive-behavioral approach, and one focusing on building healthy peer networks and targeting social issues. Primary outcomes were BMI z scores and percentage overweight.

Children in either intervention maintained their relative weight better than the control group during the interventions. These effects dwindled over the long-term follow-up (two years following randomization), but the effects of the social intervention, either alone or measured with the behavioral program, were significantly better than the control group in terms of BMI z score outcomes from baseline to the two-year follow-up.

According to the authors of an accompanying editorial, "These findings suggest that obesity treatment will likely require ongoing long-term maintenance therapy of some form to be optimally successful."

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