Family Systems Theory and Obesity Treatment: Applications for Clinicians

Sebastian G. Kaplan, Elizabeth Mayfield Arnold, Megan B. Irby, Katherine A. Boles, Joseph A. Skelton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Family-based approaches are recommended for the treatment of pediatric obesity, although most of the literature describes programs that only include the identified child and one parent in the treatment process. As a result, the clinical application of research protocols in nutrition settings may be inadequate; multiple representations of a "family" will be encountered in the clinical environment. Mental health professionals, particularly those who work with children, often engage families in psychotherapy. Developing an understanding of their methods may be beneficial to Dietitians and other clinicians who wish to follow a more family-based approach and may present new avenues for effective treatment. In our tertiary care pediatric obesity clinic, we routinely involve multiple family members throughout the treatment process. Here we discuss our experiences and introduce Bowen's Family Systems Theory as a model for translating family therapy principles into nutrition-focused treatment settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-29
Number of pages6
JournalInfant, Child, and Adolescent Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • family
  • obesity
  • pediatric
  • theory
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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