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Objective

The aim of the study was to evaluate mediating effects of energy balance-related behaviors on measures of adiposity in the Dutch Obesity Intervention in Teenagers-study (DOiT).

Design and Methods

DOiT was an 8-month behavioral intervention program consisting of educational and environmental components and evaluated in 18 prevocational secondary schools in the Netherlands (n = 1,108, baseline age 12.7 years, 50% girls). Outcome measures were changes in body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and sum of skinfold thickness. Self-reported consumption of sugar-containing beverages and high caloric snacks, active transport to/from school, and screen-viewing behaviors were the hypothesized mediators. Data were collected at 0, 8, 12, and 20 months. For the data analysis, parallel process latent growth modeling was used.

Results

Total sugar-containing beverages consumption mediated the intervention effects on BMI (ab = −0.01, 95%CI = −0.20, −0.001). The intervention group lowered their sugar-containing beverages consumption more than controls (B = −0.14, 95%CI = −0.22, −0.11) and this, in turn, led to smaller increases in BMI. No significant mediated effect by the targeted behaviors was found for waist circumference or sum of skinfolds.

Conclusions

Future school-based overweight prevention interventions may target decreasing sugar-containing beverages consumption.