Background

Evidence suggests that early weight change in adults is an important marker of overall treatment response. However, only one study has examined the impact of early weight change on short- and long-term treatment response among children enrolled in family-based behavioral obesity treatment (FBT). We conducted a replication study that assessed the association of early weight change during FBT with ultimate short- and long-term weight reductions.

Methods

Children aged 7-11y with overweight/obesity (OV/OB) and at least one parent with OV/OB participated in a multi-site, randomized clinical trial of FBT (16 weeks) and three weight-maintenance conditions (32 weeks). Hierarchical regressions were conducted to examine the association of percent change in body weight at weeks 4, 6, and 8 of FBT with weight change at post-FBT and post-maintenance. Step 1 of each regression included child age, race, sex, and baseline zBMI.

Results

172 children (9.4±1.3 years old; 61.6% female; baseline zBMI 2.16±0.39) were studied. Percent body weight reduction at weeks 4, 6, and 8 of FBT were all significant predictors of weight change post-FBT (ps<.001) and post-maintenance (ps<.001). Week 8 of FBT consistently accounted for the most variance in weight reductions post-FBT and post-maintenance. Additional analyses will characterize early responders and examine patterns of weight change across the three maintenance conditions.

Conclusions

The results support previous research that early weight change at week 8 of FBT is an important marker of eventual short- and long-term treatment response in children. Future research should focus on identifying factors that promote early weight change and developing enhanced treatment course for children with limited early response.