Effect on Weight Gain in Young Children in 2 Randomized Clinical Trials

Bottom Line: Two randomized clinical trials on the prevention of obesity in young children had differing results; one trial didn’t change body mass index (BMI) growth trajectories over three years among low-income children at risk for obesity and another trial showed some modest results.

What: In the trial that didn’t change BMI trajectories, researchers compared the effects over three years of a family-based program to build skills and change behaviors to prevent obesity with a school-readiness program in underserved children between the ages of 3 and 5 at risk for obesity but not yet obese. The study included 610 parent-child pairs.

Authors: Shari L. Barkin, M.D., M.S.H.S., Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, and coauthors

 Visual Abstract: This is the link to the abstract when the embargo lifts.

 

What: In a randomized clinical trial that showed some modest positive results, researchers examined the effect on children’s weight after three years of an intervention that helped parents respond to their children’s needs, including feeding, when they were sleepy, fussy, drowsy or alert and compared it with a home safety intervention. The study included 279 mother-child pairs, who began the intervention shortly after birth and the children were followed until age 3 years. The mothers had only given birth to one child.

Authors: Ian M. Paul, M.D., M.Sc., Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, and coauthors

Conclusion: The educational intervention on responsive parenting behaviors resulted in a modest reduction in BMI z scores (which account for child age and sex) for children at age 3 but no significant difference in BMI percentile.

Related material: The editorial, “Preventing Obesity in Children,” by Jody W. Zylke, M.D., Deputy Editor, JAMA, and Howard Bauchner, M.D., Editor in Chief, JAMA, is also available on the For The Media website.

To Learn More: The full studies are available on the For The Media website.