Obesity treatment in children is difficult. Although beneficial effects of multidisciplinary treatment in older children and adolescents have been demonstrated, little is known about treating younger children.
Objective We evaluated the effects of a multidisciplinary intervention in overweight children aged 3 to 6 years.
Methods Children are randomized either into usual care or an intense multidisciplinary treatment program. The intervention period is 4 months; the long-term effects are assessed 3, 6 and 12 months after the end of the intervention. Primary outcome is the difference in progression of Body Mass Index (BMI) between the two treatment groups. Secondary outcomes are changes in behavioral determinants like food intake and physical activity, the metabolic syndrome, body composition measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis, fat distribution assessed via abdominal ultrasound, and Quality of Life.
Results In 2007 40 families participated in the trial. Our preliminary findings showed that after 16 weeks children in the multidisciplinary group had reduced their BMI by 0.86 kg/m2 (−3.92; 0.96). The BMI-Standard Deviation Score (BMI-SDS) improved with 0.47 units (−1.52; 0.00). In the usual care group children had reduced their BMI by 0.86 kg/m2 (−2.41; 0.01). The BMI-SDS ameliorated with 0.43 units (−1.03; 0.00). After three and six months the BMI-SDS results were similar, suggesting long-lasting changes in lifestyle: −0.50 (min–max: −1.46; −0.04) and −0.53 (min–max: −1.39; 0.11) for the multidisciplinary and usual care group, respectively.
Conclusion These preliminary results show a positive tendency in lowering and maintaining BMI (-SDS) in 3 to 6 years old overweight children.