Involving Parents in Childhood Obesity

Obesity levels have more than doubled among children and tripled among teens in the past three decades. Today, CDC estimates that 12.5 million kids are obese – nearly 17 percent of children and adolescents in the US. Future of Children author Stephen R. Daniels reports that obesity has serious consequences for children and teens, including health conditions that were previously considered adult-only issues: high blood pressure, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, hardening of the arteries, and type 2 diabetes, to name a few.

In the Future of Children, author Christina Paxson and colleagues explain that that while researchers have proposed many environmental and policy solutions to the obesity problem, such as regulating the sale of soda in schools or building more sidewalks, several strategies are more promising for the short term. These include in-school, after-school, and child-care initiatives, as well as improving pediatric care. The most effective strategies will involve parents, who play a significant role in obesity prevention from gestation and infancy through adolescence.

Time Magazine recently highlighted a five-month intervention program in which parents and children learned about healthy eating and exercise, and parents learned how to set limits and teach their children to monitor their own eating. In addition, these families met for 20 minutes with their physician every two weeks to be weighed and receive advice and reading material. Results showed significant weight loss in the treatment group, while the control group continued to gain weight.

Future of Children author Ana C. Lindsay and colleagues explain, “By better understanding their own role in influencing their child’s dietary practices, physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and ultimately weight status, parents can learn how to create a healthful nutrition environment in their home, provide opportunities for physical activity, discourage sedentary behaviors such as TV viewing, and serve as role models themselves.” For more information on research-based childhood obesity intervention, see the Future of Children issue on Childhood Obesity.

2 thoughts on “Involving Parents in Childhood Obesity

  1. William H. Scott

    We know there is a problem. We know the causes. The only question is how to motivate change? Most education does not beget change.Most educators know nothing about motivation, they think preaching/scaring/awareness/legislating(smaller drink sizes and school lunch programs)will get kids to make healthier choices. How stupid can we be? Unless kids want to change habits; they will not.

    How do you MOTIVATE kids to make healthy choices?

    Provide them with GRAPES:Growth,Recognition, Achievement,Participation,Excitement(fun)Several times. Most educators haven’t a clue how to do that for any subject let alone the efforts to make kids WANT to change health habits.

  2. Dumanisha Ward

    “This documentary briefly examines the structural barriers specifically in the North Lawndale Community (NL) that contributes to the high rate of obesity and diabetes amongst lower income African Americans who are living in the North Lawndale community. It’s an approximately 11 minute documentary produced by me, Dumanisha Ward, at North Lawndale College Prep High School through my Senior Documentary Class with Free Spirit Media. This documentary is relevant and important because it examines and raises awareness about a life, threatening topic that is critical to the NL community. If we don’t do something about this problem it will only get worst and worst for the people living in this community and communities similar to it.”

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