A weight loss intervention directed at parents of overweight children may be as effective as interventions directed at both parents and children, study findings suggest. This new study confirms what Dr. Walt and his colleagues found when they did research for their book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. You can find the book here.
Reuters Health is reporting that Dr. David M. Janicke, of the University of Florida in Gainesville, and colleagues found that over 10 months, children younger than 11 years fared better in the parent-only program, while older children lost more weight through the family-based program.
The study is published in the December 2008 edition of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
“Parents exert an enormous influence on their children,” Janicke told Reuters Health. Providing a means for parents to help children adopt healthier lifestyles “is critical to helping improve health and weight status in children,” he said.
In this study, Janicke and colleagues compared a family-based and a parent-only weight loss program, versus no intervention, in 93 overweight and obese children, 8 to 14 years old, and their parents, the researchers report in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
About one third of the participants followed the family-based or the parent-only sessions offered through the Cooperative Extension Service offices serving the four rural counties in which each family lived. The remaining parents and children remained on a wait list and served as a comparison (control) group.
The Cooperative Extension Service provides nutrition, gardening, livestock, and farming information and programs in partnership with land-grant universities and the United States Department of Agriculture. Offices exist in virtually every county in the U.S., and therefore “offer a unique and ideal venue for delivery of weight management interventions for children in underserved or rural communities,” said Janicke.
The family-based intervention provided separate parent and children directed encouragement to decrease high-fat and high-sugar foods, increase vegetable and fruit intake, and increase pedometer-tallied physical activity. The parent-only sessions focused on similar goals parents could set for their children.
After 10 months, children from the intervention groups lost a similar amounts of weight and lost more weight than did the control group. Children younger than 11 years had about a 50 percent greater decrease in weight with the parent-only intervention, while children 11 years and older showed the same with the family-based intervention.
Janicke’s team suggests longer-duration investigations in larger groups of parents and children using similar “real-world settings.”
If you’d like to learn more about how you could do a similar program in your family, church, or school, you can learn more in Dr. Walt’s book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. You can find the book here.