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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Treating Childhood Obesity

Parent-only treatments against childhood obesity work as well as those that include both parents and the child, concluded a new study led by a researcher at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

The current approach in treating childhood obesity is to include both parents and the child in a plan that combines exercise with nutrition education and behavior therapy techniques.

The major problem is that this is not an easy thing to do for the entire family and it's also less cost effective.

Kerri N. Boutelle, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at UC San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego, and colleagues, recruited 80 parent-child groups with an 8 to 12-year-old overweight or obese child and assigned them randomly into parent-only or parent-child treatment programs, for a period of five months.

At the beginning of the study, at the end of the treatment and six months later, for the follow-up visit, the researchers assessed child and parent body size, child physical activity and child caloric intake.

The results between the two groups were very similar, in terms of weight loss and other criteria.

The researchers said that as parent-only treatments seem to be as effective as others and manage to solve children's behavioral issues, they could also establish a better nutrition and exercise habits in kids.

Boutelle said that the “results showed that the parent-only group was not inferior in terms of child weight loss, parent weight loss and child physical activity.

“While further research is needed, our work suggests that parent-only groups are a viable method for providing childhood obesity treatment.”

Recent statistics suggest that 31% of American kids are overweight or obese, which brings the figures to between four and five million children.

“Parents are the most significant people in a child's environment, serving as the first and most important teachers,” Boutelle adds.

“Since they play a significant role in any weight-loss program for children, we wondered if the same results could be achieved by working with just the parents, without the child coming to the clinic.”

She has received another grant from the National Institutes of Health to carry out the same study with 150 families and follow them for 18 months, families who will be recruited for a period of three years.

The results were published in the advanced online edition of the journal Obesity.

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