Effectiveness of Family-Based Behavior Change Interventions on Obesity-Related Behavior Change in Children: A Realist Synthesis

Gemma Enright*, Margaret Allman-Farinelli, Julie Redfern*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Effective treatment interventions for childhood obesity involve parents, are multicomponent and use behavior change strategies, but more information is needed on the mechanisms influencing behavioral outcomes and the type of parental involvement that is efficacious in behavioral treatment interventions with school-age children. This review aimed to understand key characteristics of programs that contribute to dietary and physical activity behavioral outcomes, and through which key mechanisms. This was a systematic review with narrative synthesis following PRISMA guidelines and realist analysis using RAMESES guidelines to explain outcome patterns and influence of parental involvement. Overall, the findings contribute to understanding the complex relationship between family barriers to behavior change, strategies employed in treatment interventions and behavioral outcomes. Implications for enhancing future policy and practice include involving parents in goal setting, motivational counselling, role modeling, and restructuring the physical environment to promote mutual empowerment of both parents and children, shared value and whole-family ownership in which intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy are implicit. These characteristics were associated with positive dietary and physical activity behavior change in children and may be useful considerations for the design and implementation of future theory-based treatment interventions to encourage habitual healthy diet and physical activity to reduce childhood obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4099
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


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