Evidence suggests that early weight change in adults is an important marker of overall treatment response. However, only one study has examined the impact of early weight change on short- and long-term treatment response among children enrolled in family-based behavioral obesity treatment (FBT). We conducted a replication study that assessed the association of early weight change during FBT with ultimate short- and long-term weight reductions.


Children aged 7-11y with overweight/obesity (OV/OB) and at least one parent with OV/OB participated in a multi-site, randomized clinical trial of FBT (16 weeks) and three weight-maintenance conditions (32 weeks). Hierarchical regressions were conducted to examine the association of percent change in body weight at weeks 4, 6, and 8 of FBT with weight change at post-FBT and post-maintenance. Step 1 of each regression included child age, race, sex, and baseline zBMI.


172 children (9.4±1.3 years old; 61.6% female; baseline zBMI 2.16±0.39) were studied. Percent body weight reduction at weeks 4, 6, and 8 of FBT were all significant predictors of weight change post-FBT (ps<.001) and post-maintenance (ps<.001). Week 8 of FBT consistently accounted for the most variance in weight reductions post-FBT and post-maintenance. Additional analyses will characterize early responders and examine patterns of weight change across the three maintenance conditions.


The results support previous research that early weight change at week 8 of FBT is an important marker of eventual short- and long-term treatment response in children. Future research should focus on identifying factors that promote early weight change and developing enhanced treatment course for children with limited early response.