Childhood obesity is a serious issue that can play a role in the development of significant and sometimes even fatal physical health problems, including diabetes, heart conditions and joint issues. It can lay the foundation for a number of serious mental health problems, too, such as low self-esteem and poor or distorted body image. Obesity can also make children potential targets of ridicule from classmates and other youths.
According to Hannah Ewald, a researcher at the Institute for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics in Basel, Switzerland, “Childhood obesity is a serious public health issue in developed and in developing countries and we need to set the course as early as possible.”
The current approach to dealing with childhood obesity typically involves interventions from both medical and educational professionals, in which both the parent and the child attend sessions to discuss a healthy weight-loss plan. However, a new study from the institute suggests that a parent-only intervention may be just as beneficial for a child’s healthy weight outcome, and may well save them some of the embarrassment associated with these kinds of intervention meetings, according to Reuters Health.
There are other positive effects associated with the parent-only approach as well. It has the potential benefits of being more cost effective. In addition, without the child present, many parents are better able to focus on the information being presented to them – rather than being distracted by monitoring how their child may be reacting to the information, they’re able to absorb it. Doctors may also speak more freely about the potential dangers of the child remaining obese, also without being inhibited by the child’s reaction.
8 studies compared intervention results
For the study, researchers looked at data from eight prior or ongoing studies. In each of the studies considered, participating families were randomly assigned to different types of weight-loss interventions.
Of the studies, five compared group-oriented programs with interventions for both parents and kids. Two compared parent-only versus child-only interventions. The final study contained a mix of approaches, with parent-only and child-only interventions occurring first, followed by parents, children and health professionals all meeting together.
Participants in the parent-only intervention programs were at least as successful in effecting weight loss as the parent-child interventions, and in many cases they were even more successful.
However, parent-only intervention programs also had the highest dropout rate. Ewald’s researchers suggest that some parents may feel overwhelmed by taking on the complete responsibility of their child’s healthy weight loss, or the dropout rates may simply be a sign of a busy lifestyle, and that parents are more likely to make time for a program their children are likewise involved in.
Unfortunately, plans that don’t have the active support and guidance of a parent figure are the most likely to fail in achieving a healthy weight, according to Ewald’s team.
“A child that is given the sole responsibility for its weight is unlikely to succeed in gaining a healthy weight,” said Ewald. “How to eat healthy, how to exercise properly and how to deal with the emotional side are difficult topics to tackle even for adults. That is why the parents (or caregivers), who have the biggest impact on the child, need to understand their part in the process.”
In the end, the best chance a child has for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is by having a supportive information base like parents, educators and health care professionals. Parents and educators need to be able to provide structure and guidance when necessary to help kids get back on track. Health care professionals can provide nutrition and exercise expertise, which can help parents form a sensible plan for their children.
Health care professionals can also help parents of children who are affected by illnesses, such as Type 2 diabetes, due to obesity create a plan to reduce and eventually eliminate these dangers using prescription medications and other treatments.
FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that help make oral medications easier to take for children. Ask your pharmacist how you can get FLAVORx for your child.