Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



Background: Family-based behavioral weight loss treatment (FBT) is an evidence-based intervention for pediatric overweight/obesity (OV/OB), but little research has examined the relative efficacy of FBT across socioeconomic status (SES), and racial groups. Method: 172 youth (7-11 y; 61.6% female; 70.1% White, 15.7% Black; child percent OV=64.2±25.2; SES=44.0±10.2; 14.5% low-income) completed 4 months of FBT and 8 months of additional intervention (either weight-control or education control). Parents reported family income, social status (Barratt Simplified Measure of Social Status), and child race at baseline. Income was dichotomized with low-income defined as family income less than 50% of the area median family income. Treatment efficacy was assessed by change in child % OV (BMI % above median BMI for age and sex), which was objectively measured at baseline, at 4-months, and at 12-months. Latent change score models examined differences in change in child % OV between 0-4 months and 4-12 months for income, social status, and race (White, Black and Other). Results: All groups achieved and maintained clinically significant weight loss (at least 9 unit decrease from baseline) at 4-months and 12-months. However, Black children had significantly less weight loss (3.3 [SE=1.5] fewer units) compared to White children at 4-months. Marginal effects were detected for children of other races compared to White children and for low-income children compared to higher-income children at 4-months. Social status was not associated with differences in child % OV reductions. No differences were detected between 4 and 12-months. Conclusions: Findings suggest that FBT is effective at producing child weight loss across different SES and racial groups, but more work is needed to understand observed differences in efficacy and optimize treatment across all groups.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Denise Wilfley

Committee Members

Joshua Jackson, Desiree White