OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a healthy lifestyle intervention to reduce adiposity in children aged 5 to 9 years and assess whether adding parenting skills training would enhance this effect. PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: We conducted a single-blinded randomized controlled trial of prepubertal moderately obese (International Obesity Task Force cut points) children, aged 5 to 9 years. The 6-month program targeted parents as the agents of change for implementing family lifestyle changes. Only parents attended group sessions. We measured BMI and waist z scores and parenting constructs at baseline, 6, 12, 18, 24 months. RESULTS: Participants (n = 169; 56% girls) were randomized to a parenting skills plus healthy lifestyle group (n = 85) or a healthy lifestyle - only group (n = 84). At final 24-month assessment 52 and 54 children remained in the parenting skills plus healthy lifestyle and the healthy lifestyle - only groups respectively. There were reductions (P < .001) in BMI z score (0.26 [95% confidence interval: 0.22-0.30]) and waist z score (0.33 [95% confidence interval: 0.26-0.40]). There was a 10% reduction in z scores from baseline to 6 months that was maintained to 24 months with no additional intervention. Overall, there was no significant group effect. A similar pattern of initial improvement followed by stability was observed for parenting outcomes and no group effect. CONCLUSIONS: Using approaches that specifically target parent behavior, relative weight loss of ∼10% is achievable in moderately obese prepubertal children and can be maintained for 2 years from baseline. These results justify an investment in treatment as an effective secondary obesity-prevention strategy.
- Waist circumference