Obesity prevention interventions through dietary and physical activity change have generally not been effective. Limitations on possible program effectiveness are herein identified at every step in the mediating variable model, a generic conceptual framework for understanding how interventions may promote behavior change. To minimize these problems, and thereby enhance likely intervention effectiveness, four sequential types of formative studies are proposed: targeted behavior validation, targeted mediator validation, intervention procedure validation, and pilot feasibility intervention. Implementing these studies would establish the relationships at each step in the mediating variable model, thereby maximizing the likelihood that an intervention would work and its effects would be detected. Building consensus among researchers, funding agencies, and journal editors on distinct intervention development studies should avoid identified limitations and move the field forward
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