CONTEXT: Family-based lifestyle interventions are recommended for adolescent obesity treatment, yet the optimal role of parents in treatment is unclear.
OBJECTIVE: To examine systematically the evidence from prospective randomized controlled and/or clinical trials (RCTs) to identify how parents have been involved in adolescent obesity treatment and to identify the optimal type of parental involvement to improve adolescent weight outcomes.
DATA SOURCES: Data sources included PubMed, PsychINFO, and Medline (inception to July 2019).
STUDY SELECTION: RCTs evaluating adolescent (12-18 years of age) obesity treatment interventions that included parents were reviewed. Studies had to include a weight-related primary outcome (BMI and BMI z score).
DATA EXTRACTION: Eligible studies were identified and reviewed, following the Preferred Reporting for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Study quality and risk of bias were evaluated by using the Cochrane Collaboration risk of bias tool.
RESULTS: This search identified 32 studies, of which 23 were unique RCTs. Only 5 trials experimentally manipulated the role of parents. There was diversity in the treatment target (parent, adolescent, or both) and format (group sessions, separate sessions, or mixed) of the behavioral weight loss interventions. Many studies lacked detail and/or assessments of parent-related behavioral strategies. In ~40% of unique trials, no parent-related outcomes were reported, whereas parent weight was reported in 26% and associations between parent and adolescent weight change were examined in 17%.
LIMITATIONS: Only RCTs published in English in peer-reviewed journals were eligible for inclusion.
CONCLUSIONS: Further research, with detailed reporting, is needed to inform clinical guidelines related to optimizing the role of parents in adolescent obesity treatment.
In this scholarly and well done review, insufficient studies have yielded unsatisfying results.