(HealthDay News) – A community-based scalable weight-management program correlates with significant reductions in overweight status in children, according to a study published online Sept 17 in Pediatrics.

Gary D. Foster, PhD, from Temple University in Philadelphia, and colleagues assessed the effect of a scalable weight-management program in a cohort of 155 children (mean age, 11.3 years; body mass index [BMI] z-score, 2.23; percentage overweight, 72.5) and their parent/guardians. Ninety-two percent of the children were obese and 46.5% were in the ≥99th percentile for BMI.

The researchers found that the children experienced a significant 3.4% reduction in percentage overweight at six months. The percentage point reduction in percentage overweight was 4.3 for those younger than 13 years and 1 for those aged 13 or older. Greater changes in percentage overweight were seen for those who attended more face-to-face group sessions. Both children and parents reported significant improvements in child health-related quality of life.

“Our findings indicate that a scalable pediatric obesity intervention delivered in community-based facilities is feasible and results in clinically significant outcomes, including improvements in weight status, as well as health-related quality of life,” the authors write. “Given that outcomes from school-based pediatric obesity interventions are variable and the most effective programs reside in tertiary care centers, this community-based program has the potential to address a yet unmet need for a feasible, scalable, and effective pediatric obesity treatment that can reach millions of children and teenagers.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to United Health Group.

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