Web-based family intervention for overweight children: A pilot study

Alan M. Delamater, Elizabeth R. Pulgaron, Sheah Rarback, Jennifer Hernandez, Adriana Carrillo, Steven Christiansen, Herbert H. Severson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Research has shown the efficacy of family-based behavioral interventions for overweight children, but a major difficulty is access to effective treatment programs. The objective of this study was to develop and test the initial feasibility and efficacy of a web-based family program for overweight 8- to 12-year-old children. Methods: A website was created using concepts from effective family-based behavioral programs and input from focus groups with overweight children, parents, and pediatricians. The website provided information about obesity and healthy lifestyles, assessment of dietary and physical activity habits, interactive dietary and physical activity games, and instruction in goal-setting and monitoring of goals. Children selected a dietary and physical activity goal and a daily step goal with pedometers. Feasibility and pilot testing over 4 weeks was conducted with 24 overweight children referred by a physician. Outcomes were z-BMI, healthy eating and physical activity, and intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy for weight control. Results: Mean number of logins over the study period was 11.4 for the study sample. Eighteen families (75%) returned for the follow-up assessment. Pre-post analyses for these participants showed improvements in intrinsic motivation, (p=0.05), self-efficacy (p=0.025), physical activity (p=0.005), and healthy lifestyle behaviors (p=0.001). Comparisons between high and low users of the program indicated that high users reduced their BMI while low users increased their BMI over time (p=0.02); high users also improved their dietary intake relative to low users (p=0.04). Consumer satisfaction ratings were high. Conclusion: These pilot findings suggest this is a feasible approach for treatment of overweight children and that children who used the web program frequently improved their BMI and dietary intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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