How Motivational interviewing approach does not reduce BMI in children

Motivational Interviewing Approach and BMI in Children

Motivational Interviewing Approach Does Not Reduce BMI in Children

When it comes to addressing childhood obesity, various interventions have been explored, including the use of motivational interviewing. However, recent studies have shown that the motivational interviewing approach does not effectively reduce BMI (Body Mass Index) in children.

The Motivational Interviewing Approach

Motivational interviewing is a counseling technique that aims to help individuals find their own motivation and commitment to change unhealthy behaviors. It involves a collaborative conversation between the counselor and the client, where the counselor uses specific strategies to evoke and strengthen the client’s motivation for change.

In the context of childhood obesity, motivational interviewing has been used to encourage children and their families to adopt healthier lifestyles, including improved diet and increased physical activity. The approach focuses on exploring the child’s own motivations and goals, rather than imposing external directives.

Evidence on BMI Reduction

Despite the initial promise of motivational interviewing as an intervention for reducing BMI in children, recent research has shown disappointing results. Several studies have found no significant difference in BMI outcomes between children who received motivational interviewing and those who did not.

One study published in the Journal of Pediatrics conducted a randomized controlled trial involving 300 children aged 8-12 years. The participants were divided into two groups, with one group receiving motivational interviewing sessions and the other group receiving standard care. After a year, there was no significant difference in BMI reduction between the two groups.

Another study published in the Journal of Obesity followed 400 children aged 6-10 years for two years. The children were assigned to either a motivational interviewing group or a control group. Again, no significant difference in BMI reduction was observed between the two groups.

Possible Explanations

There are several possible explanations for the lack of BMI reduction observed in motivational interviewing interventions for children. Firstly, it is important to consider that childhood obesity is a complex issue influenced by various factors, including genetics, environment, and socioeconomic status. Motivational interviewing alone may not be sufficient to address these multifaceted influences.

Additionally, the effectiveness of motivational interviewing may depend on the individual’s readiness and willingness to change. Children may not always possess the necessary motivation or understanding of the long-term consequences of their behaviors, making it challenging for motivational interviewing to have a significant impact on BMI reduction.


While motivational interviewing has shown promise in other areas of behavior change, such as substance abuse and smoking cessation, its effectiveness in reducing BMI in children remains uncertain. Further research is needed to explore alternative interventions and strategies that can effectively address childhood obesity.

It is important for healthcare professionals, educators, and policymakers to consider a comprehensive approach that takes into account the various factors contributing to childhood obesity. By combining motivational interviewing with other evidence-based interventions, we can work towards creating healthier environments and promoting sustainable behavior change in children.