Treat Overweight Children Through Their Parents, Study Shows

Parent-only treatment may be effective to help children lose weight

A new study at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, shows that treatments directed towards parents of obese children can work better than plans directed towards both the parents and the child, and also be less expensive and easier for families to handle. This study was published in an online version of  Obesity.

Researchers are working to determine whether or not working directly with the parent is the best method to assist in childhood weight loss.

While it was originally believed that the parent only method of weight management for the children would be inferior, there was no difference in terms of weight loss of the child, physical activity of the child, or weight loss of the parent when compared to a combination group.

More than 4 million children, over 30%, in the United States can be classified as either overweight or obese. Currently, typical weight loss and nutrition plans involve both parent and child.

Parents significantly affect a child’s life, including their diet and nutrition. Based on that, researchers are trying to determine whether or not working directly with the parent may be beneficial to assisting childhood obesity.

For this study, 80 groups containing one parent one child, the child between eight and 12 years old considered to be overweight or obese, were randomly assigned to either parent only or parent-child treatment. Data was collected on body size of both child and parent, caloric intake of child, and physical activity of child. Evaluation occurred at the beginning, after the treatment, and six months after the testing period.

After analyzing data, researchers discovered that parent only treatment produced similar results as treatments including children. Researchers believe that parent only treatment may be a solution for other childhood issues, such as behavioral.

Authors of this study were given additional funding to study this concept in more depth. This new study will evaluate up to 150 families for 18 months.