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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Translational research: are community-based child obesity treatment programs scalable?

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Louise L. Hardy, Seema Mihrshahi, Joanne Gale, Binh Nguyen, Louise A. Baur, Blythe J. O’Hara
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

LLH and BOJH contributed to the study design, interpretation of results, manuscript conceptualisation and preparation. SM and BN contributed to the study design, data management, JG statistical analysis and interpretation and manuscript preparation. LAB helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Community-based obesity treatment programs have become an important response to address child obesity; however the majority of these programs are small, efficacy trials, few are translated into real-world situations (i.e., dissemination trials). Here we report the short-term impact of a scaled-up, community-based obesity treatment program on children’s weight and weight-related behaviours disseminated under real world conditions.


Children age 6–15 years with a body mass index (BMI) ≥85th percentile with no co-morbidities, and their parents/carers participated in a twice weekly, 10-week after-school child obesity treatment program between 2009 and 2012. Outcome information included measures of weight and weight-related behaviours. Analyses were adjusted for clustering and socio-demographic variables.


Overall, 2,812 children participated (54.2 % girls; Mage 10.1 (2.0) years; Mattaendance 12.9 (5.9) sessions). Beneficial changes among all children included BMI (−0.65 kg/m2), BMI-z-score (−0.11), waist circumference (−1.8 cm), and WtHtr (−0.02); self-esteem (+2.7units), physical activity (+1.2 days/week), screen time (−4.8 h/week), and unhealthy foods index (−2.4units) (all p < 0.001). Children who completed 75 % of the program were more likely to have beneficial changes in BMI, self-esteem and diet (sugar sweetened beverages, lollies/chocolate, hot chips and takeaways) compared with children completing <75 % of the program.


This is one of the few studies to report outcomes of a government-funded, program at scale in a real-world setting, and shows that investment in a community-based child obesity treatment program holds potential to produce short-term changes in weight and weight-related behaviours. The findings support government investment in this health priority area, and demonstrate that community-based models of child obesity treatment are a promising adjunctive intervention to health service provision at all levels of care.
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