Screening for Obesity and Intervention for Weight Management in Children and Adolescents

Importance  Obesity is common in children and adolescents in the United States, is associated with negative health effects, and increases the likelihood of obesity in adulthood.

Objective  To systematically review the benefits and harms of screening and treatment for obesity and overweight in children and adolescents to inform the US Preventive Services Task Force.

Data Sources  MEDLINE, PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane Collaboration Registry of Controlled Trials, and the Education Resources Information Center through January 22, 2016; references of relevant publications; government websites. Surveillance continued through December 5, 2016.

Study Selection  English-language trials of benefits or harms of screening or treatment (behavior-based, orlistat, metformin) for overweight or obesity in children aged 2 through 18 years, conducted in or recruited from health care settings.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Two investigators independently reviewed abstracts and full-text articles, then extracted data from fair- and good-quality trials. Random-effects meta-analysis was used to estimate the benefits of lifestyle-based programs and metformin.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Weight or excess weight (eg, body mass index [BMI]; BMI zscore, measuring the number of standard deviations from the median BMI for age and sex), cardiometabolic outcomes, quality of life, other health outcomes, harms.

Results  There was no direct evidence on the benefits or harms of screening children and adolescents for excess weight. Among 42 trials of lifestyle-based interventions to reduce excess weight (N = 6956), those with an estimated 26 hours or more of contact consistently demonstrated mean reductions in excess weight compared with usual care or other control groups after 6 to 12 months, with no evidence of causing harm. Generally, intervention groups showed absolute reductions in BMI z score of 0.20 or more and maintained their baseline weight within a mean of approximately 5 lb, while control groups showed small increases or no change in BMI z score, typically gaining a mean of 5 to 17 lb. Only 3 of 26 interventions with fewer contact hours showed a benefit in weight reduction. Use of metformin (8 studies, n = 616) and orlistat (3 studies, n = 779) were associated with greater BMI reductions compared with placebo: −0.86 (95% CI, −1.44 to −0.29; 6 studies; I2 = 0%) for metformin and −0.50 to −0.94 for orlistat. Groups receiving lifestyle-based interventions offering 52 or more hours of contact showed greater improvements in blood pressure than control groups: −6.4 mm Hg (95% CI, −8.6 to −4.2; 6 studies; I2 = 51%) for systolic blood pressure and −4.0 mm Hg (95% CI, −5.6 to −2.5; 6 studies; I2 = 17%) for diastolic blood pressure. There were mixed findings for insulin or glucose measures and no benefit for lipids. Medications showed small or no benefit for cardiometabolic outcomes, including fasting glucose level. Nonserious harms were common with medication use, although discontinuation due to adverse effects was usually less than 5%.

Conclusions and Relevance  Lifestyle-based weight loss interventions with 26 or more hours of intervention contact are likely to help reduce excess weight in children and adolescents. The clinical significance of the small benefit of medication use is unclear.

Reference: JAMA. 2017;317(23):2427-2444.

Risk of major congenital malformations in relation to maternal overweight and obesity severity: cohort study of 1.2 million singletons

Objective To estimate the risks of major congenital malformations in the offspring of mothers who are underweight (body mass index (BMI) <18.5), overweight (BMI 25 to <30), or in obesity classes I (BMI 30 to <35), II (35 to <40), or III (≥40) compared with offspring of normal weight mothers (BMI 18.5 to <25) in early pregnancy.

Design Population based cohort study.

Setting Nationwide Swedish registries.

Participants 1 243 957 liveborn singleton infants from 2001 to 2014 in Sweden. Data on maternal and pregnancy characteristics were obtained by individual record linkages.

Exposure Maternal BMI at the first prenatal visit.

Main outcome measures Offspring with any major congenital malformation, and subgroups of organ specific malformations diagnosed during the first year of life. Risk ratios were estimated using generalised linear models adjusted for maternal factors, sex of offspring, and birth year.

Results A total of 43 550 (3.5%) offspring had any major congenital malformation, and the most common subgroup was for congenital heart defects (n=20 074; 1.6%). Compared with offspring of normal weight mothers (risk of malformations 3.4%), the proportions and adjusted risk ratios of any major congenital malformation among the offspring of mothers with higher BMI were: overweight, 3.5% and 1.05 (95% confidence interval 1.02 to 1.07); obesity class I, 3.8% and 1.12 (1.08 to 1.15), obesity class II, 4.2% and 1.23 (1.17 to 1.30), and obesity class III, 4.7% and 1.37 (1.26 to 1.49). The risks of congenital heart defects, malformations of the nervous system, and limb defects also progressively increased with BMI from overweight to obesity class III. The largest organ specific relative risks related to maternal overweight and increasing obesity were observed for malformations of the nervous system. Malformations of the genital and digestive systems were also increased in offspring of obese mothers.

Conclusions Risks of any major congenital malformation and several subgroups of organ specific malformations progressively increased with maternal overweight and increasing severity of obesity. For women who are planning pregnancy, efforts should be encouraged to reduce adiposity in those with a BMI above the normal range.

Reference: BMJ 2017;357:j2563

Aerobic or Resistance Exercise, or Both, in Dieting Obese Older Adults


Obesity causes frailty in older adults; however, weight loss might accelerate age-related loss of muscle and bone mass and resultant sarcopenia and osteopenia.


In this clinical trial involving 160 obese older adults, we evaluated the effectiveness of several exercise modes in reversing frailty and preventing reduction in muscle and bone mass induced by weight loss. Participants were randomly assigned to a weight-management program plus one of three exercise programs — aerobic training, resistance training, or combined aerobic and resistance training — or to a control group (no weight-management or exercise program). The primary outcome was the change in Physical Performance Test score from baseline to 6 months (scores range from 0 to 36 points; higher scores indicate better performance). Secondary outcomes included changes in other frailty measures, body composition, bone mineral density, and physical functions.


A total of 141 participants completed the study. The Physical Performance Test score increased more in the combination group than in the aerobic and resistance groups (27.9 to 33.4 points [21% increase] vs. 29.3 to 33.2 points [14% increase] and 28.8 to 32.7 points [14% increase], respectively; P=0.01 and P=0.02 after Bonferroni correction); the scores increased more in all exercise groups than in the control group (P<0.001 for between-group comparisons). Peak oxygen consumption (milliliters per kilogram of body weight per minute) increased more in the combination and aerobic groups (17.2 to 20.3 [17% increase] and 17.6 to 20.9 [18% increase], respectively) than in the resistance group (17.0 to 18.3 [8% increase]) (P<0.001 for both comparisons). Strength increased more in the combination and resistance groups (272 to 320 kg [18% increase] and 288 to 337 kg [19% increase], respectively) than in the aerobic group (265 to 270 kg [4% increase]) (P<0.001 for both comparisons). Body weight decreased by 9% in all exercise groups but did not change significantly in the control group. Lean mass decreased less in the combination and resistance groups than in the aerobic group (56.5 to 54.8 kg [3% decrease] and 58.1 to 57.1 kg [2% decrease], respectively, vs. 55.0 to 52.3 kg [5% decrease]), as did bone mineral density at the total hip (grams per square centimeter; 1.010 to 0.996 [1% decrease] and 1.047 to 1.041 [0.5% decrease], respectively, vs. 1.018 to 0.991 [3% decrease]) (P<0.05 for all comparisons). Exercise-related adverse events included musculoskeletal injuries.


Of the methods tested, weight loss plus combined aerobic and resistance exercise was the most effective in improving functional status of obese older adults. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health; LITOE number, NCT01065636.)

Screening and brief intervention for obesity in primary care: a parallel, two-arm, randomised trial


Obesity is a common cause of non-communicable disease. Guidelines recommend that physicians screen and offer brief advice to motivate weight loss through referral to behavioural weight loss programmes. However, physicians rarely intervene and no trials have been done on the subject. We did this trial to establish whether physician brief intervention is acceptable and effective for reducing bodyweight in patients with obesity.


In this parallel, two-arm, randomised trial, patients who consulted 137 primary care physicians in England were screened for obesity. Individuals could be enrolled if they were aged at least 18 years, had a body-mass index of at least 30 kg/m2 (or at least 25 kg/m2 if of Asian ethnicity), and had a raised body fat percentage. At the end of the consultation, the physician randomly assigned participants (1:1) to one of two 30 s interventions. Randomisation was done via preprepared randomisation cards labelled with a code representing the allocation, which were placed in opaque sealed envelopes and given to physicians to open at the time of treatment assignment. In the active intervention, the physician offered referral to a weight management group (12 sessions of 1 h each, once per week) and, if the referral was accepted, the physician ensured the patient made an appointment and offered follow-up. In the control intervention, the physician advised the patient that their health would benefit from weight loss. The primary outcome was weight change at 12 months in the intention-to-treat population, which was assessed blinded to treatment allocation. We also assessed asked patients’ about their feelings on discussing their weight when they have visited their general practitioner for other reasons. Given the nature of the intervention, we did not anticipate any adverse events in the usual sense, so safety outcomes were not assessed. This trial is registered with the ISRCTN Registry, number ISRCTN26563137.


Between June 4, 2013, and Dec 23, 2014, we screened 8403 patients, of whom 2728 (32%) were obese. Of these obese patients, 2256 (83%) agreed to participate and 1882 were eligible, enrolled, and included in the intention-to-treat analysis, with 940 individuals in the support group and 942 individuals in the advice group. 722 (77%) individuals assigned to the support intervention agreed to attend the weight management group and 379 (40%) of these individuals attended, compared with 82 (9%) participants who were allocated the advice intervention. In the entire study population, mean weight change at 12 months was 2·43 kg with the support intervention and 1·04 kg with the advice intervention, giving an adjusted difference of 1·43 kg (95% CI 0·89–1·97). The reactions of the patients to the general practitioners’ brief interventions did not differ significantly between the study groups in terms of appropriateness (adjusted odds ratio 0·89, 95% CI 0·75–1·07, p=0·21) or helpfulness (1·05, 0·89–1·26, p=0·54); overall, four (<1%) patients thought their intervention was inappropriate and unhelpful and 1530 (81%) patients thought it was appropriate and helpful.


A behaviourally-informed, very brief, physician-delivered opportunistic intervention is acceptable to patients and an effective way to reduce population mean weight.


The UK National Prevention Research Initiative.

Association of Pharmacological Treatments for Obesity With Weight Loss and Adverse Events A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Importance  Five medications have been approved for the management of obesity, but data on comparative effectiveness are limited.

Objective  To compare weight loss and adverse events among drug treatments for obesity using a systematic review and network meta-analysis.

Data Sources  MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, Scopus, and Cochrane Central from inception to March 23, 2016; clinical trial registries.

Study Selection  Randomized clinical trials conducted among overweight and obese adults treated with US Food and Drug Administration–approved long-term weight loss agents (orlistat, lorcaserin, naltrexone-bupropion, phentermine-topiramate, or liraglutide) for at least 1 year compared with another active agent or placebo.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Two investigators identified studies and independently abstracted data using a predefined protocol. A Bayesian network meta-analysis was performed and relative ranking of agents was assessed using surface under the cumulative ranking (SUCRA) probabilities. Quality of evidence was assessed using GRADE criteria.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Proportions of patients with at least 5% weight loss and at least 10% weight loss, magnitude of decrease in weight, and discontinuation of therapy because of adverse events at 1 year.

Results  Twenty-eight randomized clinical trials with 29 018 patients (median age, 46 years; 74% women; median baseline body weight, 100.5 kg; median baseline body mass index, 36.1) were included. A median 23% of placebo participants had at least 5% weight loss vs 75% of participants taking phentermine-topiramate (odds ratio [OR], 9.22; 95% credible interval [CrI], 6.63-12.85; SUCRA, 0.95), 63% of participants taking liraglutide (OR, 5.54; 95% CrI, 4.16-7.78; SUCRA, 0.83), 55% taking naltrexone-bupropion (OR, 3.96; 95% CrI, 3.03-5.11; SUCRA, 0.60), 49% taking lorcaserin (OR, 3.10; 95% CrI, 2.38-4.05; SUCRA, 0.39), and 44% taking orlistat (OR, 2.70; 95% CrI, 2.34-3.09; SUCRA, 0.22). All active agents were associated with significant excess weight loss compared with placebo at 1 year—phentermine-topiramate, 8.8 kg (95% CrI, −10.20 to −7.42 kg); liraglutide, 5.3 kg (95% CrI, −6.06 to −4.52 kg); naltrexone-bupropion, 5.0 kg (95% CrI, −5.94 to −3.96 kg); lorcaserin, 3.2 kg (95% CrI, −3.97 to −2.46 kg); and orlistat, 2.6 kg (95% CrI, −3.04 to −2.16 kg). Compared with placebo, liraglutide (OR, 2.95; 95% CrI, 2.11-4.23) and naltrexone-bupropion (OR, 2.64; 95% CrI, 2.10-3.35) were associated with the highest odds of adverse event–related treatment discontinuation. High attrition rates (30%-45% in all trials) were associated with lower confidence in estimates.

Conclusions and Relevance  Among overweight or obese adults, orlistat, lorcaserin, naltrexone-bupropion, phentermine-topiramate, and liraglutide, compared with placebo, were each associated with achieving at least 5% weight loss at 52 weeks. Phentermine-topiramate and liraglutide were associated with the highest odds of achieving at least 5% weight loss.

JAMA. 2016;315(22):2424-2434.

Effect of Caloric Restriction or Aerobic Exercise Training on Peak Oxygen Consumption and Quality of Life in Obese Older Patients With Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Importance  More than 80% of patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF), the most common form of heart failure among older persons, are overweight or obese. Exercise intolerance is the primary symptom of chronic HFPEF and a major determinant of reduced quality of life (QOL).

Objective  To determine whether caloric restriction (diet) or aerobic exercise training (exercise) improves exercise capacity and QOL in obese older patients with HFPEF.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Randomized, attention-controlled, 2 × 2 factorial trial conducted from February 2009 through November 2014 in an urban academic medical center. Of 577 initially screened participants, 100 older obese participants (mean [SD]: age, 67 years [5]; body mass index, 39.3 [5.6]) with chronic, stable HFPEF were enrolled (366 excluded by inclusion and exclusion criteria, 31 for other reasons, and 80 declined participation).

Interventions  Twenty weeks of diet, exercise, or both; attention control consisted of telephone calls every 2 weeks.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Exercise capacity measured as peak oxygen consumption (V̇o2, mL/kg/min; co–primary outcome) and QOL measured by the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure (MLHF) Questionnaire (score range: 0–105, higher scores indicate worse heart failure–related QOL; co–primary outcome).

Results  Of the 100 enrolled participants, 26 participants were randomized to exercise; 24 to diet; 25 to exercise + diet; 25 to control. Of these, 92 participants completed the trial. Exercise attendance was 84% (SD, 14%) and diet adherence was 99% (SD, 1%). By main effects analysis, peak V̇o2 was increased significantly by both interventions: exercise, 1.2 mL/kg body mass/min (95% CI, 0.7 to 1.7), P < .001; diet, 1.3 mL/kg body mass/min (95% CI, 0.8 to 1.8), P < .001. The combination of exercise + diet was additive (complementary) for peak V̇o2 (joint effect, 2.5 mL/kg/min). There was no statistically significant change in MLHF total score with exercise and with diet (main effect: exercise, −1 unit [95% CI, −8 to 5], P = .70; diet, −6 units [95% CI, −12 to 1],P = .08). The change in peak V̇o2 was positively correlated with the change in percent lean body mass (r = 0.32; P = .003) and the change in thigh muscle:intermuscular fat ratio (r = 0.27; P = .02). There were no study-related serious adverse events. Body weight decreased by 7% (7 kg [SD, 1]) in the diet group, 3% (4 kg [SD, 1]) in the exercise group, 10% (11 kg [SD, 1] in the exercise + diet group, and 1% (1 kg [SD, 1]) in the control group.

Conclusions and Relevance  Among obese older patients with clinically stable HFPEF, caloric restriction or aerobic exercise training increased peak V̇o2, and the effects may be additive. Neither intervention had a significant effect on quality of life as measured by the MLHF Questionnaire.

Trial Registration Identifier: NCT00959660

Dalane W. Kitzman et al, JAMA. 2016;315(1):36-46

Cardiometabolic Risks and Severity of Obesity in Children and Young Adults

Background The prevalence of severe obesity among children and young adults has increased over the past decade. Although the prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors is relatively low among children and young adults who are overweight or obese, those with more severe forms of obesity may be at greater risk.

Methods We performed a cross-sectional analysis of data from overweight or obese children and young adults 3 to 19 years of age who were included in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 through 2012 to assess the prevalence of multiple cardiometabolic risk factors according to the severity of obesity. Weight status was classified on the basis of measured height and weight. We used standard definitions of abnormal values for total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, lowdensity lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, glycated hemoglobin, and fasting glucose and report the prevalence of abnormal values in children and young adults according to weight status.

Results Among 8579 children and young adults with a body-mass index at the 85th percentile or higher (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts), 46.9% were overweight, 36.4% had class I obesity, 11.9% had class II obesity, and 4.8% had class III obesity. Mean values for some, but not all, cardiometabolic variables were higher with greater severity of obesity in both male and female participants, and the values were higher in male participants than in female participants; for HDL cholesterol, the mean values were lower with greater severity of obesity. Multivariable models that controlled for age, race or ethnic group, and sex showed that the greater the severity of obesity, the higher the risks of a low HDL cholesterol level, high systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and high triglyceride and glycated hemoglobin levels.

Conclusions Severe obesity in children and young adults was associated with an increased prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors, particularly among boys and young men.

Cardiometabolic Risks and Severity of Obesity in Children and Young Adults by Asheley C. Skinner, et al. N Engl J Med 2015; 373:1307-1317 October 1, 2015