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Review of Pediatric Obesity Interventions

15 July 2011


Obesity in children and adolescents has become a global epidemic, and for the first time in 200 years may result in a decrease in life expectancy. Strategies for weight loss and subsequent maintenance include dietary therapy, physical activity, behavioral therapy, combined therapy, pharmacotherapy, and weight loss surgery. The purpose of the present paper was to review pediatric obesity treatments that could be considered ESTs; with the objective of determining which treatments are effective and the direction that future research could take. Twenty studies met the criteria for this review, which followed those guidelines congruent with ESTs. Of these twenty studies ten were categorized as using psychotherapy as the primary intervention in decreasing weight. Eight of the ten studies showed significant effects for the treatment conditions. Two of the studies used diet changes as the primary intervention, and both showed significant treatment effects. Three of the studies used physical activity as the primary intervention, of which two showed significant treatment effects. Six of the studies reviewed used pharmacotherapy as their primary intervention and all were found to have significant treatment effects. Metformin, Orlistat, and Sibutramine were the drugs used in these studies to treat youth obesity, and from this review it would appear that all are effective treatments. Overall psychotherapy, diet, physical activity, and pharmacotherapy are all effective interventions in treating youth obesity, when evaluated using established criteria for empirically supported treatments.


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