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The prevalence of childhood obesity has increased worldwide, which is a serious concern as obesity is associated with many negative immediate and long-term health consequences. Therefore, the treatment of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents is strongly recommended. Inpatient weight-loss programs have shown to be effective particularly regarding short-term weight-loss, whilst little is known both on the long-term effects of this treatment and the determinants of successful weight-loss and subsequent weight maintenance.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the short, middle and long-term effects of an inpatient weight-loss program for children and adolescents and to investigate the likely determinants of weight changes, whereby the primary focus lies on the potential role of differences in polymorphisms of adiposity-relevant genes.
The study involves overweight and obese children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years, who participate in an inpatient weight-loss program for 4 to 6 weeks. It started in 2006 and it is planned to include 1,500 participants by 2013. The intervention focuses on diet, physical activity and behavior therapy. Measurements are taken at the start and the end of the intervention and comprise blood analyses (DNA, lipid and glucose metabolism, adipokines and inflammatory markers), anthropometry (body weight, height and waist circumference), blood pressure, pubertal stage, and exercise capacity. Physical activity, dietary habits, quality of life, and family background are assessed by questionnaires. Follow-up assessments are performed 6 months, 1, 2, 5 and 10 years after the intervention: Children will complete the same questionnaires at all time points and visit their general practitioner for examination of anthropometric parameters, blood pressure and assessment of pubertal stage. At the 5 and 10 year follow-ups, blood parameters and exercise capacity will be additionally measured.
Apart from illustrating the short, middle and long-term effects of an inpatient weight-loss program, this study will contribute to a better understanding of inter-individual differences in the regulation of body weight, taking into account the role of genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors.