Obesity in children and adolescents is now the most common chronic condition in the USA. Data indicate that approximately one in five children in the USA is now overweight. Public health professionals have increased efforts in recent years to develop medically supervised programs for this population. However, research shows that only a small amount of obese children participate in weight-reduction programs. Also, the long-term effects of these weight-reduction interventions for obese children have not been well researched. Several recent studies report that most of the successful obesity programs utilize an interdisciplinary approach that combines a diet, physical activity, parental involvement and behavioral modification. This article provides a review of the professional literature related to the benefits and barriers of medically supervised pediatric weight-management programs. It summarizes the programs that work and the perceived barriers that parents and families struggle with in adhering to treatment plans. © 2008 SAGE Publications.