Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2010 ; 31(9): pp. 705–712. doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e3181f17b1c.


Copyright © 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Used by permission.


Objective—This study examined the role of demographic characteristics, psychological factors, and family functioning on attendance in a randomized controlled trial of a family-based pediatric obesity program.

Method—Participants included 155 children between the ages of 4 and 7 years (M age = 5.77, 57.4% female, 73.6% African-American, M BMI = 25.5) and their primary caregivers who were randomized to the treatment group. Three groups of participants were created based on their patterns of attendance during the program: 1) noncompleters, 2) partial completers, and 3) completers.

Results—Results indicated no differences among the attendance groups in child gender, child BMI, or child psychological functioning. Significant group differences were found with respect to race/ethnicity, parent marital status, and family income, such that noncompleters were more likely to be racial/ethnic minorities, to living in single parent households, and to have lower incomes than partial completers and completers. After controlling for the effects these socio-demographic risk factors, noncompleters and partial completers reported more family dysfunction characterized by high levels of disengagement than completers.

Conclusion—Adapting existing weight management programs to include a focus on family engagement in the early stages of treatment may help to improve participation in family-based obesity interventions targeting high risk, socio-economically disadvantaged youth.