Thursday, May 30

Family Support Could Be Key in Combating Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is a more critical issue than many people realize, but a new study has found a possible way to help turn the tide and put kids on a healthier track.

Right now, about one-third of children and adolescents between the ages of six and 19 are considered to be overweight or obese. According to the World Health Organization, the number of overweight or obese infants and young children increased from 1990’s global count of 32 million to 2013’s 42 million. If current trends persist, the WHO warns that the number of overweight or obese infants and young children globally will increase to 70 million by 2025.

“Childhood obesity must be accepted as a significant and urgent threat to health that is relevant in all countries. Governments must take the lead,” said WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan.

To make matters worse, the parents of overweight and obese children often misperceive their child’s weight status. In recent studies, parents have shown rates of incorrect perception of over 90%, and this problem occurred across gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and region of the country.

Luckily, a new study has found a way to possibly reduce excess weight in mild to moderately overweight children. The key is, apparently, family support.

The intervention and the weight loss occurred during a two-year study conducted by Rachael W. Taylor, Ph.D, from the University of Otago in New Zealand, and colleagues. It has been published online in the August issue of the journal Pediatric.

The study included 206 children between four and eight years old who had a body mass index (BMI) in the 85th percentile or higher. Researchers randomly assigned families to either the usual care group, or to the tailored package treatment group, which was supposed to provide children with frequent, low-dose family support. Researchers informed each group that their children were overweight.

After two years, researchers found that the family support was able to effectively reduce excess weight. Children in the TP group not only had smaller BMI gains than those in the control group, but they were also more physically active, and had better diets.

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