Effects of motivational interviewing to promote weight loss in obese children

Man Yee Emmy WONG, May Hung May CHENG

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Aims and objectives: To assess the effects of motivational interviewing for obese children and telephone consultation for parents to promote weight loss in obese children. Background: Childhood obesity is a worldwide health problem that leads to serious metabolic and physiological consequences. An effective intervention to manage obesity is essential. Motivational interviewing is designed to resolve ambivalence, enhance intrinsic motivation and promote confidence in a person's ability to make behaviour changes. It has shown promise in the adult obesity literature as effecting positive health behaviour changes. Motivational interviewing has also been proposed as an effective method for improving the weight loss of obese children. Design: A pre–post quasi-experimental design with repeated measures was used. Methods: The study was conducted in four primary schools over an 11-month period in 2010–2011. Obese children (n = 185) were screened from 791 school children studying the equivalent to UK grades 5 and 6 and were divided into three groups: motivational interviewing, motivational interviewing+ and a control group. The motivational interviewing group (n = 70) children were provided with motivational interviewing counselling; the motivational interviewing+ group (n = 66) children were provided with motivational interviewing counselling while telephone consultation was provided for their parents; and the control group did not receive any intervention (n = 49). Results: Children in both the motivational interviewing and motivational interviewing+ groups showed significant improvement in their weight-related behaviour and obesity-related anthropometric measures from the baseline to the end of the 14-week intervention, while the control group had significant deterioration in their anthropometric measures. Conclusion: Motivational interviewing appears to be a promising intervention for promoting weight loss in obese children. Motivational interviewing counselling may be extended to obese children of different age groups. Relevance to clinical practice: This study indicates that motivational interviewing is a useful method for improving behaviour changes in eating, physical activity and weight loss for obese children, suggesting the benefits of such intervention. Copyright © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2519-2530
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number17 & 18
Early online dateMar 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


Wong, E. M. Y., & Cheng, M. M. H. (2013). Effects of motivational interviewing to promote weight loss in obese children. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 22(17 & 18), 2519-2530.


  • Behavior
  • Counselling
  • Experimental design
  • Health promotion
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Nurses
  • Nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Physical activity
  • Telephone consultation


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