The Effectiveness of Nutrition Specialists on Pediatric Weight Management Outcomes in Multicomponent Pediatric Weight Management Interventions: A Systematic Review and Exploratory Meta-Analysis

Kyle L. Thompson, Mei Chung, Deepa Handu, Melissa Gutschall, Sarah T. Jewell, Laura Byham-Gray, J. Scott Parrott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Background: Nutrition specialists are considered key members of multicomponent pediatric weight management intervention teams, but to date, their contribution has not been quantified. Objective: The purpose of this systematic review was to estimate the effectiveness of interventions provided by treatment teams that include a nutrition specialist on pediatric weight management outcomes, including body mass index (BMI), BMI z score, and waist circumference when compared with treatment teams that do not include a nutrition specialist. Methods: The results of a comprehensive literature search and a systematic and more targeted update of that search were included in the meta-analyses: a search of controlled trials published between July 2005 and April 2012, conducted during the 2015 Pediatric Weight Management Update Project of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Library, and an update search of controlled trials published between May 2012 and December 2015 focusing on a more specific topic within the previous search. Studies included overweight and/or obese patients aged 6 to 18 years receiving outpatient weight management treatment. Data extraction of all studies identified was performed using a standardized tool. The resulting data from the search and the systematic update were merged. Ninety-nine studies and 209 study arms were included in the analysis. An exploratory meta-analysis using alternative meta-analytic methods designed for complex, heterogenous interventions was conducted to identify relative contributions by intervention provider category at selected time points. Meta-regression analyses were used to evaluate significant differences from the reference category for each provider category. Results: The nutrition specialist-only condition resulted in increased reductions in BMI z score compared with behavioralist-only, combined nutrition specialist and behavioralist, and neither nutrition specialist or behavioralist category (reference) throughout the analysis. Meta-regression analysis indicated that the difference in BMI z score between the nutrition specialist-only category and the reference category was significant at 3 to <6 months, 6 months to <1 year, and 1-year to 2-year time points (P=0.01, P=0.05, and P=0.01, respectively). There were smaller increases in BMI over time for the nutrition specialist-only provider category compared with reference categories, and this difference was significant at the 3 to <6 months and 1-year to 2-years time points (P=0.001 and P=0.05, respectively). There were no significant differences among provider categories for waist circumference at any time point. Conclusions: Indirect evidence indicated that pediatric weight management outcomes for BMI z score and BMI at selected time points appeared to be better when a nutrition specialist was involved in delivering care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-817.e43
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • BMI
  • BMI z-score
  • Multi-component pediatric weight management intervention
  • Pediatric obesity

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