The present study evaluates the pre-treatment child and family characteristics as well as the parental motives and experienced barriers when ending prematurely a weight loss programme for their obese child, in accordance with the 'barriers-to-treatment model' and subsequent research on dimensions underlying treatment termination decision. Treatment seeking youngsters (n = 72) with a mean of 10.46 years (SD = 2.56) were followed over a 1-year period. Dropout, child and family characteristics were measured both during assessment and treatment. The 'barriers-to-treatment' data were collected at the 1-year follow-up via mail (response rate = 65%; n = 47). Results showed that dropout could be successfully predicted at intake by age, psychopathology in the child and motivation of the parents. Results indicated further that there are few differences in total barriers score between completers and non-completers. Item content analysis revealed two themes that were more often reported by non-completers (appointment arrangements and perceived relevance of treatment). The hypothesis that non-completers (compared to completers) experienced more barriers that burden their willingness to continue a weight loss programme could not be confirmed. Besides demographic characteristics, specifically motivation of the parents at intake seems an important area for future research. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.