Educating parents on healthy lifestyle may help get their overweight children off the couch and moving more, a small study suggests.
In a pilot study testing a program called Families for Health, UK researchers found benefits for both children and their parents.
The children, who were all overweight or obese at the study’s start, became less sedentary and managed to lose some weight.
Their parents, meanwhile, reported improvements in their relationships with their children, and in their own mental well-being.
The success suggests that the program should now be tested in a larger study, the researchers report.
The findings also highlight the importance of the parent-child relationship in combating childhood obesity, according to the researchers, led by Wendy Robertson of Warwick Medical School in Coventry.
The Families for Health program differs from other childhood obesity programs currently being researched in the UK in its emphasis on parenting and relationship skills, the researchers write.
The 21 families in the study attended weekly sessions at a community center over 12 weeks. The children, who ranged in age from 7 to 13, played games that kept them physically active, learned about healthy eating and had time to discuss the “emotional aspects” of their lives with each other — including any problems they faced in dealing with their weight.
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