(HealthDay News) – For overweight children aged 4–7 years, an intervention comprised of pediatrician-led motivational interviews (MIs) is effective for body mass index (BMI) control, according to a study published online Oct. 21 in Pediatrics.

Anna Maria Davoli, MD, from the Local Health Authority in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and colleagues assessed the effect of family pediatrician-led MIs on the BMI of overweight 4- to 7-year-olds. 95% of family pediatricians working in Reggio Emilia Province were provided with specific training for MIs. Overweight children whose parents agreed for them to participate were randomized to MIs (five MI family meetings; 187 children) or usual care (an information leaflet; 185 children), and were assessed at baseline and at 12 months to evaluate BMI and lifestyle behaviors. Individual variation of BMI was the primary outcome, assessed by pediatricians.

The researchers found that during the intervention, the average BMI increased by 0.49 in the MI group and by 0.79 in the control group (difference, −0.3; P=0.007). No effect of MI was noted among boys or children whose mothers had a low educational level. In the MI group, positive changes in lifestyle behaviors were more frequent than in the control group.

“A family pediatrician-led MI was effective in BMI control for overweight children aged 4–7 years,” the authors write. “However, further efforts are needed to understand why it is not effective for male subjects and for children whose mothers have less education.”

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