Much has
been made of the different approaches used to maintain weight loss in adults.
However, there is scant data on how to help children keep off the pounds over
time. A report published in the October 10, 2007, issue of
The Journal
of the American Medical Association
sheds some light on the best
short- and long-term maintenance interventions for weight loss in kids.

In a randomized, controlled trial
at a university weight loss clinic, researchers studied 204 healthy 7- to
12-year-olds who were 20%–100% above median BMI for their age and gender and
who also had at least one overweight parent. All of the children were enrolled
for 5 months of weight loss treatment, while 150 of the participants were
randomly selected to undergo an additional maintenance intervention over a 1-
to 2-year follow-up period. Maintenance conditions included learning healthier
behavioral skills, learning social facilitation skills or serving in a control
group.

Children who received the
maintenance treatments were initially able to sustain their weight loss
significantly better than the control group. Even though the 2-year follow-up
showed a decline in the efficacy of maintenance treatments, children who
participated in these interventions still maintained their weight loss much
better than the controls at the same point in time.

“The addition of a
maintenance-targeted treatment improves short-term efficacy of weight loss
treatment for children relative to no maintenance treatment,” the researchers
reported. “However, the waning effects over follow-up . . . [suggest] the need
for the bolstering of future maintenance treatments to sustain effects.”

Bottom line: Any weight loss
program you create for young clients should address the need for longer-term
maintenance interventions in order to be successful.