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Recommendations Summary

Pediatric Weight Management (PWM) Treatment Format Options: Group vs. Individual Intervention

Click here to see the explanation of recommendation ratings (Strong, Fair, Weak, Consensus, Insufficient Evidence) and labels (Imperative or Conditional). To see more detail on the evidence from which the following recommendations were drawn, use the hyperlinks in the Supporting Evidence Section below.

  • Recommendation(s)

    PWM: Group vs. Individual Interventions

    Either group or individual nutrition intervention may be used as part of a multi-component pediatric weight-management program. Limited research that compares individual vs. group format does not indicate differences in overall pediatric weight status. However, two studies suggest that some dietary outcome measures may be improved with an individual counseling format.

    Rating: Weak

    • Risks/Harms of Implementing This Recommendation


    • Conditions of Application

      Intervention format should be age and developmentally appropriate.

    • Potential Costs Associated with Application

      • Both individual and group interventions may have different costs and resources associated with them
      • If organizational and program costs are passed on to participants, this could limit program access. Additionally, parent commitment to program participation is required.
      • The absence of health insurance coverage for weight management could limit program access.

    • Recommendation Narrative

      Only four articles were identified that compared individual vs. group formats within the same pediatric obesity treatment program. This limited body of research did not find differences in weight status using group vs. individual counseling formats (Grade III).

      However, the two studies that reported dietary intake outcomes separately from adiposity outcomes (De Mello ED, Luft VC et al, 2004; Nuutinen O, 1991) found that changes in dietary intake varied according to treatment format. Additionally, De Mello ED, Luft VC et al, 2004, reported significant changes in physical activity measures only in the group intervention format.

      Goldfield GS, Epstein LH et al, 2001, found that a group intervention format (compared to a mixed treatment, group and individual treatment format) was associated with larger decreases in percentage overweight per dollar spent at 12 months. However, the authors point out that it is not clear whether this finding can be generalized to different subject populations.

    • Recommendation Strength Rationale

      Research directly comparing treatment formats within a single program was very limited.

    • Minority Opinions