Plain language summary
Childhood obesity represents a significant problem to society. It is associated with increased incidence of adult obesity and cardiovascular risk factors. This report was commissioned by the Endocrine Society to help them formulate a clinical practice guidance for paediatric obesity. The review completed a meta-analysis and systematic review of randomised controlled trials up until February 2006. It focused on exploring the efficacy of weight loss interventions (diet, lifestyle and pharmacological agents) for overweight children and adolescents (aged 2-18 years). The authors concluded that there was evidence of short-term efficacy of pharmacological interventions (sibutramine and orlistat in adolescents) on body mass index (BMI). The review also reported a moderate effect of physical activity on adiposity but not BMI, and a small to moderate effect of combined lifestyle interventions on BMI. The impact of parental influence on treatment for childhood obesity remain unclear, although the authors suggest it may be of benefit among children aged 8 years and over. Additionally, the long-term efficacy of obesity treatments on the health of children and adolescents remains unclear.
CONTEXT The efficacy of treatments for pediatric obesity remains unclear. OBJECTIVE We performed a systematic review of randomized trials to estimate the efficacy of nonsurgical interventions for pediatric obesity. DATA SOURCES Librarian-designed search strategies of nine electronic databases from inception until February 2006, review of reference lists from published reviews, and content expert advice provided potentially eligible studies. STUDY SELECTION Eligible studies were randomized trials of overweight children and adolescents assessing the effect of nonsurgical interventions on obesity outcomes. DATA EXTRACTION Independently and in duplicate, reviewers assessed the quality of each trial and collected data on interventions and outcomes. DATA SYNTHESIS Of 76 eligible trials, 61 had complete data for meta-analysis. Short-term medications were effective, including sibutramine [random-effects pooled estimate of body mass index (BMI) loss of 2.4 kg/m(2) with a 95% confidence interval (CI) of 1.8-3.1; proportion of between-study inconsistency not due to chance (I(2)) = 30%] and orlistat (BMI loss = 0.7 kg/m(2); CI = 0.3-1.2; I(2) = 0%). Trials that measured the effect of physical activity on adiposity (i.e. percent body fat and fat-free mass) found a moderate treatment effect (effect size = -0.52; CI = -0.73 to -0.30; I(2) = 0%), whereas trials measuring the effect on BMI found no significant effect (effect size = -0.02; CI = -0.21 to 0.18; I(2) = 0%), but reporting bias may explain this finding. Combined lifestyle interventions (24 trials) led to small changes in BMI. CONCLUSIONS Limited evidence supports the short-term efficacy of medications and lifestyle interventions. The long-term efficacy and safety of pediatric obesity treatments remain unclear.