Junkfood Science: Another one bites the dust

April 24, 2007

Another one bites the dust

Live, Eat and Play (LEAP) is the acronym for a randomized clinical trial of primary care interventions for childhood obesity conducted in 29 medical clinics across Melbourne, Australia. It was an intense 3-month program to teach healthy lifestyle changes for overweight children, ages 5 to 10, and their families, with 12 months of followup.

Doctors are frequently told they can “make an important contribution to the management of childhood overweight, but there is no efficacy data to support this or the feasibility of this approach,” the researchers wrote in a 2005 issue of the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. Since many families are willing to see their practitioner, this study would determine if an individualized, family-centered primary care approach was effective.

Was it?

The results were just published in the International Journal of Obesity and found that this doctor-based intervention program resulted in no sustained change in body mass indexes among the children and proved ineffective for changing childhood obesity. Among the 2,200 children, health status was also no different among the intervention group as compared to the controls.

The researchers proposed that perhaps the doctors needed more training or that more intense interventions might work, but would be cost prohibitive. A second LEAP study involving 4,500 children began in 2005 and is due to be completed this year.

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