Program

Oct 26, 2007

OVERVIEW

A family therapy regiment was developed to supplement
dietary counseling for obese children. In a random assignment study,
children receiving only dietary counseling were compared with children
receiving dietary counseling plus family therapy. During the treatment
period, children assigned to receive family therapy increased their body mass index
(BMI) to a lesser extent than did children who received dietary counseling
alone. Children in the family therapy group also reduced their skinfold thickness to a greater extent than did children in
the dietary counseling only group. At one-year follow-up, children in the
family therapy group and children in the dietary counseling only group had
comparable BMIs; however, children in the family
therapy group had smaller skinfold thickness and were
more physically fit.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Obese children and their families

A six-session family therapy regiment was developed to
supplement dietary counseling for obese children. Family therapists
sought to identify dysfunctional structures in the obese children’s families
and to adjust these structures as necessary. Family resources were
reinforced as a means by which to create an optimal emotional climate for
helping the obese children. During therapy, family failures, past or
present, were not discussed. Instead, the focus was on constructing
solutions and improving family functioning.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Flodmark, C., Ohlsson, T., Ryden,
O., & Sveger, T.
(1993).Prevention of Progression to Severe Obesity in a
Group of Obese Schoolchildren Treated With Family Therapy. Pediatrics,
91
, 880-884.

Evaluated population: A total of 1,906 Swedish schoolchildren
between the ages of 10 and 11 were screened for obesity and 44 were selected to
serve as the study sample for this investigation. These children all had skinfold thickness exceeding the 85th percentile
for 10- to 11-year old Swedish children.

Approach: The 44 children were randomly assigned to
either the family therapy group or the conventional care group.
Conventional care consisted of dietary counseling by a dietician and regular
visits to an experienced pediatrician with an interest in weight
problems. In addition to receiving conventional care, the family therapy
group was offered six family therapy sessions spread out over the course of one
year. All children underwent physical examinations before treatment, at
the end of the 14- to 18-month treatment period, and one year after the
treatment period was over.

Results: During the treatment period, children in the
family therapy group increased their body mass index (BMI) to a lesser extent
than did children in the conventional care group. Children in the family
therapy group also reduced their skinfold thickness
to a greater extent than did children in the conventional treatment group.

At the one-year follow-up, children in the family therapy
group and children in the conventional care group had comparable BMIs. There were, however, fewer severely obese
children in the family therapy group, and this difference was marginally
significant.

During the follow-up period, the overall reduction in skinfold thickness was significantly greater in the family
treatment group than in the conventional care group. Additionally,
children in the family therapy group were more physically fit than children in
the conventional care group, as measured by a bicycle ergometer
test.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Curriculum materials unavailable for
purchase.

References:

Flodmark, C., Ohlsson, T., Ryden,
O., & Sveger, T. (1993).Prevention of Progression to Severe Obesity in a
Group of Obese Schoolchildren Treated With Family Therapy. Pediatrics,
91
, 880-884.

KEYWORDS: Middle Childhood (6-11), Adolescence (12-17),
Children (3-11), Home-based, Clinic-based, Skills Training, Counseling/Therapy,
Family Therapy, Physical Health, Nutrition, Overweight, Obese

Program information last updated on
10/26/07.