While they might not realize it, parents play a huge role in their children’s eating and exercise habits. Kids are still spending most of their time at home and eating most meals at home. Parents buy and prepare food, and decide what and how much kids can eat. They are responsible for providing opportunities for children to be active and can set rules for TV and video game use.
With obesity increasingly becoming a critical medical problem in children, parents need to step up to the plate. In the United States, a whopping 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years are obese, as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but mom and dad, don’t fret.
According to a study recently published in medical journal Pediatrics, diet and exercise programs with parental involvement, parent and child centered program, are the best way to help kids stay trim and fit.
The study involved 165 overweight children between ages 6 to 10 years old, who were randomly assigned to one of three interventions: a diet program taught to parents by dietitians that focused on goal setting, problem solving and positive reinforcement from parents; an activity program for kids taught by physical education teachers, with parents taking part early on and encouraged to do more at home with their kids; and a combination of the two programs, with parents and children both participating.
Children in all three groups reduced their body mass index and waist circumference after two years, with the diet program and the combination program yielding better results than the activity program.
Therefore, parents’ input might actually be necessary to see results. They can be trained to be effective agents of change where management of obesity in children is concerned. After the study, parents reported feeling more comfortable saying “no” to their children’s demands, setting limits on the type of food the children could eat, limiting the amount of time they spent watching TV or playing video games, and establishing consequences for breaking the rules.
This study shows that interventions that target parents alone may be an effective and non-stigmatizing strategy for achieving effective weight loss in obese children. Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right’s child and parent centered program utilizes this strategy, and enables parents and children to make the right food choices and have fun eating healthy, wholesome meals. Power to the parents, you can do it!
About This Author
Joanna Dolgoff, M.D. is a Pediatrician, Child Obesity Expert, and Author of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right (Rodale, 2009). Dr. Dolgoff’s child and adolescent weight loss program (http://www.DrDolgoff.com) has been featured on WABC News, WNBC News, Fox 5 Morning Show, My9 News, and WPIX News. She has also filmed pieces with The Today Show and Extra, is an official blogger for the Huffington Post, and is the official doctor for Camp Shane, the nation’s largest weight loss camp. Children from 45 different states are losing weight with Dr. Dolgoff’s online weight loss program (http://www.DrDolgoff.com).
Dr. Dolgoff attended Princeton University and the NYU School of Medicine and completed her Pediatric Residency at the Columbia Presbyterian Children’s Hospital of New York. She is a Board-Certified Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a former certified fitness instructor. Dr. Dolgoff resides in Roslyn, NY with her husband and two children, ages 4 and 7.