Motivational Interviewing and Pediatric Obesity

  • Robyn S. Mehlenbeck
  • Yana Markov Wember
Part of the Issues in Clinical Child Psychology book series (ICCP)

The prevalence of pediatric overweight continues to increase, with the most recent estimates indicating that approximately 19 percent of children and 17 percent of adolescents in the United States are overweight, as defined by a BMI greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for age and gender (Ogden et al. 2006). Other studies have indicated that 37 percent of children and 34 percent of adolescents are either at risk for, or are, overweight (BMI > = 85th percent) (Ogden et al.). Childhood obesity is associated with a significant number of short- and long-term health consequences, psychosocial risks, and an increased risk for obesity in adulthood (Freedman, Dietz, Srinivasan, & Berenson, 1999; Ludwig & Ebbeling, 2001; Whitaker, Wright, Pepe, Seidel, & Dietz, 1997). Given these long-standing implications and risks, Healthy People 2010 lists the reduction in prevalence of overweight among children as a key indicator of national health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000).

Interventions to treat overweight children and adolescents are varied in their results. Most group-based interventions for children include a parent component, dietary restrictions (e.g., traffic light diet, reduced calorie diet), and a physical activity prescription (e.g., increase physical activity, decrease sedentary activity), as well as behavioral components targeting implementation of recommendations. With school-age children, family-based cognitive-behavioral group intervention is effective for weight loss (Epstein, Valoski, Wing, & McCurley, 1994), and has demonstrated long-term efficacy. There is less empirical evidence demonstrating efficacy of psychosocial weight-management interventions in adolescents (Jelalian & Saelens, 1999), and it remains unclear as to whether parents should participate in a group treatment program, and within what format. Even when a group format is available, it is not clear that group treatment is an effective intervention, particularly for adolescents. In addition, few people have access to group treatment for pediatric weight loss. Therefore, to reach more people and to continue to find effective treatments, consideration of treatment options for pediatric overweight is a priority (Dietz, 2006; Kirk, Scott, & Daniels, 2005).


Weight Management Motivational Interview Autonomous Motivation Decisional Balance Motivational Intervention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robyn S. Mehlenbeck
    • 1
  • Yana Markov Wember
    • 1
  1. 1.The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Rhode Island HospitalBradley Hasbro Children's Research CenterProvidence

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