A profile will be given of the psychosocial characteristics of obese children and youngsters, as well as those of their families. Then several attempts of (particularly) preventive interventions will be sketched. Differences found between clinical and non-clinical groups of obese children and youngsters do not permit generalized statements regarding specific psychosocial characteristics. Just as little as there exist a simple and unequivocal image of family functioning with these children. There are great differences between the psychological assumptions and the biological concepts about obesity. Whereas, biological concepts are relevant for the whole obese population, psychosocial characteristics seems to hold mainly for the clinical group of obese persons. The gap between clinical versus non-clinical as well as curative versus preventive approaches will be explained. There are remarkable differences between curative versus preventive intervention goals in terms of the extent to which they focus on life style habits or psychosocial (dys)functioning. Where prevention strategies focus more on enhancing physical activities, curative interventions focus more on changing eating behavior patterns and (depending on chronicity and seriousness of obesity) modifying psychosocial dysfunctioning. © 2004 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.