Tackling childhood obesity needs involvement of families, follow-up care: study

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/12/15 7:53:05

When trying to help children lose weight, involvement of a parent in the treatment makes the entire family healthier, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found.

Researchers tested a family-based treatment that involved weekly meetings over a period of several months. During the time, parents were taught to engineer a home environment that supported healthy eating and activity. They were also taught to model healthy behaviors for their children so that kids themselves could learn to make healthier choices.

They also found that when a parent and child received follow-up care that was more comprehensive after an initial intervention, both did better than others whose follow-up was less comprehensive, according to an article published on the website of Washington University School of Medicine on Wednesday.

The family-based behavioral weight loss treatment protocol the researchers used involved weekly, 30-minute family sessions and 45 minutes of separate parent and child group sessions. After 16 weeks, participants were randomized to eight months of either a weekly high dose or an every-other-week low dose.

All three groups made significant improvements during the first four months, but the enhanced, weekly program led to the best outcomes. The high-dose group had the greatest proportion of children who achieved clinically meaningful weight loss, which is 82 percent, compared with 64 percent for the group that participated in the follow-up every other week, and 48 percent for the control group.

It's important that kids get into treatment early in life because as they age, children need to lose more weight to achieve a healthy weight status.

Childhood obesity in the US has reached epidemic levels: nearly one in three children is overweight or has obesity. The overall rate is 17 percent, with 6 percent of kids having severe obesity. It is one of the biggest drivers of preventable, chronic diseases and health-care costs in the United States, and the cost estimate ranges from 147 billion US dollars to nearly 210 billion dollars per year. The current generation of children may be the first to live shorter lives than their parents.

The study has been published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Posted in: BIOLOGY

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