MyBFF@school Study: The Effectiveness of a Psychology Module in Reducing the Emotional and Behavioral Problems among Overweight and Obese Secondary School Children in Malaysia

Background: Obesity may cause negative impacts on the physical and psychosocial aspects of the children. This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of MyBFF@school intervention program on emotional and behavioral problems in a clustered randomized controlled trial among 768 overweight and obese secondary school children in Malaysia. Methods: They were assessed by using the Youth Self-Report Questionnaire to measure their emotional and behavioral problems. Comparison between intervention group (447 children) and control group (321 children) at post-intervention were analyzed using ANCOVA. Results: There were significant reduction in the symptoms of anxious/depressed, F(1,740)=4.591, p <0.05, withdrawn/depressed, F(1,745)=5.257, p <0.05 and somatic complaints, F(2,729)=4.072, p <0.05 post 6 months of intervention. MyBFF@school program was effective in reducing the aforementioned symptoms significantly, which prove the effectiveness of the psychology module used in the program. Conclusions: The findings demonstrated the importance of psychology component in programs combating obesity among overweight and obese secondary school children to reduce emotional and behavioural problems among them. Trial registration: National Medical Research Register: NMRR-13-439-16563. Registered 23rd July 2013. The intervention program was approved by the Medical Research and Ethics Committee (MREC), Ministry of Health Malaysia and Educational Planning and Research Division (EPRD), Ministry of Education Malaysia.