A weight loss intervention directed at parents of overweight children may be as effective as interventions directed at both parents and children, study findings suggest.
Over 10 months, children younger than 11 years fared better in the parent-only program, while older children lost more weight through the family-based program, report Dr. David M. Janicke, of the University of Florida in Gainesville, and colleagues.
“Parents exert an enormous influence on their children,” Janicke told. Providing a means for parents to help children adopt healthier lifestyles “is critical to helping improve health and weight status in children,” he said.
In this study, Janicke and colleagues compared a family-based and a parent-only weight loss program, versus no intervention, in 93 overweight and obese children, 8 to 14 years old, and their parents, the researchers report in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
About one third of the participants followed the family-based or the parent-only sessions offered through the Cooperative Extension Service offices serving the four rural counties in which each family lived. The remaining parents and children remained on a wait list and served as a comparison (control) group.
The Cooperative Extension Service provides nutrition, gardening, livestock, and farming information and programs in partnership with land-grant universities and the United States Department of Agriculture.
Offices exist in virtually every county in the U.S., and therefore “offer a unique and ideal venue for delivery of weight management interventions for children in underserved or rural communities,” said Janicke.
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