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Article
November 21, 1990

Treatment of Obesity in Children

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia (Drs Stunkard and Berkowitz), and The Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic (Dr Berkowitz).

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia (Drs Stunkard and Berkowitz), and The Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic (Dr Berkowitz).

JAMA. 1990;264(19):2550-2551. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450190082034
Abstract

Two propositions about obesity are generally accepted: fat children grow into fat adults,1,2 and weight lost in treatment programs is promptly regained.3

It is against this background that the 10-year follow-up of treatment of obese children, reported by Epstein and colleagues4 in this issue of The Journal, must be considered. For this study showed that obese children treated for a very short period of time (eight weekly meetings followed by six monthly meetings) showed effects of treatment 10 years later, when they were significantly less obese than children in a comparison group.

How are we to explain these surprising results?

Three possible explanations seem unlikely. Differential attrition between treatment and control groups is always a possibility in long-term follow-up studies, and there was some attrition in this study. The attrition, however, was limited—only 14 of 75 children became unavailable for follow-up—and it was distributed about evenly among

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