Sex as a Moderator of Adolescents' Weight Loss Treatment Outcomes

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Adolescent, Obesity, Weight loss, Peer influence, Physical activity, Cognitive behavior therapy

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Purpose: Weight loss treatments targeting adolescents often occur in mixed-sex contexts and produce variable outcomes. Sex considerations may be of particular importance, especially given differences in social relating. This study aggregated data from two randomized controlled trials of a peer-enhanced intervention compared with a standard cognitive-behavioral weight loss intervention to test the hypothesis that adolescent girls may demonstrate greater benefit than boys from a peer-enhanced weight loss intervention.

Methods: Participants were 193 adolescents with overweight/obesity (age M = 14.4 years, standard deviation = .99) from two randomized clinical trials comparing a peer-enhanced intervention with an active cognitive-behavioral weight loss intervention. Adolescents' percent over body mass index (percent greater than the 50th percentile for age and sex) was measured at baseline, end of treatment, and approximately 6 months post treatment. Multilevel modeling was used to test hypotheses.

Results: Findings suggested different weight change trajectories from baseline to end of treatment, and from end of treatment to follow-up. On average, all participants demonstrated weight loss from baseline to end of treatmentm and there was evidence that adolescent boys in the peer-enhanced condition may have benefited the most. On average, weight was maintained from end of treatment to follow-up.

Conclusion: Adolescent males may particularly benefit from weight loss interventions that incorporate a team component to supervised physical activity.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Adolescent Health, v. 62, issue 5, p. 591-597