Translational research: are community-based child obesity treatment programs scalable?

Louise L. Hardy, Seema Mihrshahi, Joanne Gale, Binh Nguyen, Louise A. Baur, Blythe J. O'Hara

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33 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Community-based obesity treatment programs have become an important response to address child obesity; however the majority of these programs are small, efficacy trials, few are translated into real-world situations (i.e., dissemination trials). Here we report the short-term impact of a scaled-up, community-based obesity treatment program on children’s weight and weight-related behaviours disseminated under real world conditions. Methods: Children age 6–15 years with a body mass index (BMI) ≥85th percentile with no co-morbidities, and their parents/carers participated in a twice weekly, 10-week after-school child obesity treatment program between 2009 and 2012. Outcome information included measures of weight and weight-related behaviours. Analyses were adjusted for clustering and socio-demographic variables. Results: Overall, 2,812 children participated (54.2 % girls; Mage 10.1 (2.0) years; Mattaendance 12.9 (5.9) sessions). Beneficial changes among all children included BMI (−0.65 kg/m2), BMI-z-score (−0.11), waist circumference (−1.8 cm), and WtHtr (−0.02); self-esteem (+2.7units), physical activity (+1.2 days/week), screen time (−4.8 h/week), and unhealthy foods index (−2.4units) (all p < 0.001). Children who completed ≥75 % of the program were more likely to have beneficial changes in BMI, self-esteem and diet (sugar sweetened beverages, lollies/chocolate, hot chips and takeaways) compared with children completing <75 % of the program. Conclusions: This is one of the few studies to report outcomes of a government-funded, program at scale in a real-world setting, and shows that investment in a community-based child obesity treatment program holds potential to produce short-term changes in weight and weight-related behaviours. The findings support government investment in this health priority area, and demonstrate that community-based models of child obesity treatment are a promising adjunctive intervention to health service provision at all levels of care.
Original languageEnglish
Article number652
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2015. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Community health services
  • Behaviour change
  • Public health


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