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
Stunkard AJ, Berkowitz RI. Treatment of Obesity in Children. JAMA. 1990;264(19):2550-2551. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450190082034