CBT is Effective for Childhood Obesity

According to a recent study published in Quality of Life Research, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can be effective in reducing obesity and increasing health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in children. The current study, based in the Netherlands, sought to assess the effects of a family-based multidisciplinary CBT, aimed at reducing Body Mass Index (BMI) and improving quality of life in obese children in comparison to standard care. Those who participated (n=81) ranged in age from 8 to 17 years. The children were randomly assigned to receive the multidisciplinary CBT intervention (n=41) or care as usual (n=40), including advice regarding nutrition and physical activity. The intervention consisted of a 3 month screening phase involving a dietician, child-physiotherapist and child-psychologist. Afterward, there was a 3 month intensive phase consisting of group meetings for the children and their parents. Treatment was also followed by booster sessions; totaling a period of 2 years.

Following 3 months of treatment and at the 12-month follow up, multidisciplinary CBT was found to be statistically significant in reducing the BMI of participants. An ANCOVA test showed a decline from 4.2 BMI-Standard Deviation Score (SDS) at baseline to 3.8 BMI-SDS at the 12-month follow-up; there was no change in the BMI-SDS of the control group.  Analysis for health-related quality of life was based on child report (DISABKIDS) as well as parent report. Immediately following the intervention there were improvements in quality of life as measured by the HRQOL, though non-significant at that time. However, the results from baseline to the 12-month follow up showed that there was a statistically significant increase in quality of life, both physically and emotionally.

This study is important as it shows the longitudinal effects of a Multidisciplinary CBT, whereas most similar studies have only shown short term effects. Though further longitudinal studies of this kind are needed, the results suggest that a family-based multidisciplinary CBT can be an effective treatment for reducing BMI and increasing health-related quality of life in children suffering with obesity.

Vos, R.C., Huisman, S.D., Houdijk, E.C.A.M., Pijl, H., & Wit, J.M. (2012) The effect of family-based multidisciplinary cognitive behavioral treatment on health-related quality of life in childhood obesity.  Quality of Life Research, 21(9), 1587-1594

One Year of Daily Diet Tips

Our Diet Program Coordinator, Deborah Beck Busis, has posted a Daily Diet Solution each weekday for over a year now!  Check out our Daily Diet Solutions page to see all of our diet tips.

CBT for Diet

Realistic Diet Expectations

At the most recent Beck Diet Solution Workshop, Dr. Judith Beck explains the problems dieters have sticking to low calorie diets for life.  Instead, the Beck Diet Solution teaches people how to gradually reduce total calorie intake to a level that can be maintained for a lifetime, so weight loss will be maintained.  Individuals who work with dieters can attend a special workshop at Beck Institute April 27,2012.  Click here for more information about this special workshop. To receive articles and future workshop updates join the Beck Diet Solution Newsletter Mailing List.

Why Dieters Struggle: A Cognitive Behavioral Viewpoint

In this video clip from her “Beck Diet Solution” workshop, Dr. Judith Beck explains that it isn’t the fault of dieters that they fail; rather, no one ever taught them the cognitive (thinking) and behavioral skills they need to make permanent changes in their eating. She offers an analogy of learning to play the piano: To be successful in mastering any new activity, people need to learn and practice essential techniques in a graded fashion.  To attend a Beck Diet Solution Workshop, visit

Developing A Healthy Diet For The Rest Of Your Life

Dr. Judith Beck introduces her book, The Beck Diet Solution, at a workshop for coaches and dieters. She explains the importance of developing an eating plan that can be sustained for life, and which includes favorite foods. To attend a Beck Diet Solution Workshop with Dr. Judith Beck and Deborah Beck Busis, LSW, visit

Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Weight Loss in Family Members

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for weight loss produces healthier eating habits and motivation for physical activity in adults and their adult family members. In the current study, CBT treatment positively influenced weight, food choices, and physical activity among participants and family members (mainly spouses). The significant correlation between participants and their spouses, in terms of weight loss and positive lifestyle habits, suggests that family support may be an important mechanism contributing to favorable outcomes of treatment.

Rossini R., et al., (2011). Effects of cognitive-behavioral treatment for weight loss in family members. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111, 1712-9.