Introduction: Pediatricians are encouraged to promote behavior modification to reduce childhood obesity and its co-morbidities, yet the effectiveness of office counseling is unclear. We aimed to evaluate if a low-intensity intervention (action-oriented counseling) in a clinic setting results in weight stabilization, and if the effect is modified by a diagnosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We hypothesized that patients with NAFLD would be more motivated to adhere to the lifestyle goals set in clinic, due to the diagnosis of an obesity-related condition; and, would therefore achieve greater weight reduction compared to similarly overweight and obese patients without a diagnosis of NAFLD. Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted on 73 (35 male, 38 female) overweight and obese patients (BMI ≥ 85th percentile) attending a pediatric GI clinic between January 2006 and October 2011. Analysis was conducted to determine if lifestyle goals discussed with the patient at each clinic visit were associated with improved BMI, BMI z-score, and liver enzymes. Treatment outcomes among NAFLD patients and similarly obese patients without NAFLD were compared using t-tests and chi-square tests. Results: Of the children evaluated, 74.0% achieved a reduction or stabilization in BMI z-score after 3 months of follow-up. Among NAFLD patients, liver enzymes improved in 72% of those who were able to stabilize or reduce their BMI and among 43% of those who gained weight. Treatment outcome did not significantly differ based on having a diagnosis of NAFLD, although there was a trend towards greater improvements. Conclusion: Our study suggests that action oriented counseling including goal-setting in a low intensity, clinic based approach is effective in improving patient BMI, in the presence or absence of an obesity-related co-morbidity, such as NAFLD. Further, we demonstrated that lifestyle modification led to improvement of liver enzymes in NAFLD patients and may result in other clinically relevant improvements. Longer studies will be needed to determine if the improvements are sustained.
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