Open Access Study protocol

Managing paediatric obesity: a multidisciplinary intervention including peers in the therapeutic process

Helena Fonseca1, António Labisa Palmeira23*, Sandra Cristina Martins2, Liliana Falcato2 and António Quaresma2

Author Affiliations

1 Paediatric Obesity Clinic, Department of Paediatrics, Hospital de Santa Maria, Lisboa, Portugal

2 Faculdade de Educação Física e Desporto, Universidade Lusófona, Campo Grande 376, Lisboa, 1749-024, Portugal

3 CIPER – Faculdade de Motricidade Humana, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Pediatrics 2014, 14:89  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-89

Published: 3 April 2014



Adolescent obesity epidemic is one of the major health priorities as it tracks into adult life. There is widespread need for new creative strategies and lifestyle programs. This study was designed to investigate the possible impact of including peers on the weight management program and assess the long-run adherence to behaviour change, with a potential positive impact on body mass index, body composition, and physical activity. Peer influence is major at this age and it is expected that adolescents will be better motivated and engaged in the behaviour changes when they are accompanied by their friends.


The study is a non-randomised, non-blinded controlled trial, including two groups: 1) Comparison group (n = 35), which will receive a 12 month standard treatment at the hospital setting plus a weekly interactive and physical activity session; 2) Experimental group (n = 99), which will receive the standardized treatment at the hospital plus a weekly session together with a peer of their choice. The sample size calculations for the primary outcomes showed that we will have power to detect effect sizes of 0.25. Measures include: a) Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (for body composition assessment); b) Anthropometric evaluations; c) Assessment of physical activity levels by accelerometers; d) Psychosocial mediators (motivation and peer support) assessed with a package of psychometric questionnaires; and e) Outcomes (quality of life and well-being).


Adolescence is a crucial period for the development of a healthy lifestyle, especially among those who reach this age with an obesity condition. Obesity management programs directed to adolescents are often an adopted version of programs developed for children, most of them with a strong focus on the family, or an adopted version of adult programs, not recognizing the specificities of this age group. This study is designed taking into account the unique characteristics of this life-cycle stage, with the main objective of testing an innovative treatment for adolescent obesity.

Trial registration

This trial is registered in the with the number NCT02024061

Adolescent; Obesity; Physical Activity; Weight Management; Peers