BACKGROUND: Our primary aim was to evaluate the effects of 2 family-based obesity management interventions compared with a control group on BMI in low-income adolescents with overweight or obesity.
METHODS: In this randomized clinical trial, 360 urban-residing youth and a parent were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 behaviorally distinct family interventions or an education-only control group. Eligible children were entering the sixth grade with a BMI =85th percentile. Interventions were 3 years in length; data were collected annually for 3 years. Effects of the interventions on BMI slope (primary outcome) over 3 years and a set of secondary outcomes were assessed.
RESULTS: Participants were primarily African American (77%), had a family income of <25 000 per year, and obese at enrollment (68%). BMI increased over time in all study groups, with group increases ranging from 0.95 to 1.08. In an intent-to-treat analysis, no significant differences were found in adjusted BMI slopes between either of the family-based interventions and the control group (P = .35). No differences were found between the experimental and control groups on secondary outcomes of diet, physical activity, sleep, perceived stress, or cardiometabolic factors. No evidence of effect modification of the study arms by sex, race and/or ethnicity, household income, baseline levels of child and parent obesity, or exposure to a school fitness program were found.
CONCLUSIONS: In this low-income, adolescent population, neither of the family-based interventions improved BMI or health-related secondary outcomes. Future interventions should more fully address poverty and other social issues contributing to childhood obesity.