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Family-based weight loss program effective for children and teens
Family-based weight loss program effective for children and teens

June 26, 2007 (Insidermedicine) Children who participate in a family-based weight management program are more successful at losing weight than those involved in traditional weight loss approaches, say researchers in a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

From 1999 to 2004, the percentage of overweight American children and teens has risen to about 17% and is even higher among African American and Hispanic youth. The obesity epidemic has resulted in an increase in type 2 diabetes, which is associated with long-term health issues including heart disease, blindness, kidney damage, and amputation. Unfortunately, attempts at promoting weight control interventions in children and teens have been largely unsuccessful.

Over a three-year period, researchers assessed an innovative family-based weight management program called Bright Bodies, designed to meet the needs of inner-city minority children. The study involved more than 200 overweight children of mixed ethnic groups. The primary aim was to compare changes in body mass index, body composition, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and blood lipid profiles with children receiving routine care from a pediatric obesity clinic.

Half of the children were assigned to receive traditional weight management in a clinic setting and the other half received an intensive family-based program involving exercise, nutrition education, and behaviour modification. 

While the children in the clinic-based program continued to gain weight and increase their body mass index, those in the weight-management group essentially had no weight gain over 12 months, a 4% reduction in body fat, a reduction in total cholesterol, and a modest reduction in body mass index. In addition, the weight management group experienced a significant reduction in insulin sensitivity at 12 months, indicating a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The study demonstrates the significant advantages of achieving behavioral modification within a family-based setting to control childhood obesity. 

Reporting for Insidermedicine, I’m Dr. Susan Sharma.