Promoting Weight Loss in Children

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • The Parental Help is on the Way Approach to Promoting Weight Loss in Children 

    I grew up at the tail end of the, “children should be seen but not heard,” and “do as I say but not as I do” parenting era. The hypocrisy of it all still had a heartbeat, but it was slowing. For instance, youngsters who were caught experimenting with smoking were subject to near capitol punishment repercussions, as in, “you'll hang for that junior!” Meanwhile, Mom and Dad puffed away madly to the tune of one pack per day.  

    Curiously enough, when we asked what was the great taboo regarding tobacco, we were told we were simply not old enough yet. Sorry kids, suicide begins at eighteen, so you'll just have to wait. 

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    Even more curious was the explanation that smoking was a bad and dangerous habit. Apparently, role modeling was still in the tune-up stage. 

    We remain imperfect although we have gotten better across time. Meanwhile, the fact remains that there is much to be said for leading by example.   


    The Bariatric Model

    A recent study by Geisinger found that overweight boys who lived with an adult who had bariatric surgery had a lower-than-anticipated body mass index (BMI) post surgery. Overweight boys who did not live with an adult with a history of bariatric surgery had a higher than anticipated BMI at follow-up. 

    Christopher D. Still, director of Geisinger's Obesity Institute, states that, "parental obesity is one of the strongest risk factors for childhood obesity.” He adds that parents who are good models for eating behavior, responsive to the signals their children give, and who make available certain foods at home, might make good opportunities for intervention. 

    Because an adult family member is already making changes to his or her lifestyle, it is believed that this person is a good candidate to promote a heathy lifestyle intervention within the household.     


    The Helping Hand Approach

    Part of parenting is to serve as a life guide to our children, to do what we can to influence choices that lead to the better direction. Researchers at Brown University in Rhode Island assessed how ready parents were to make behavioral changes around the eating and exercise habits of their children. What they discovered was that parents were not always ready to do both, that they were more willing to make changes in diet than in physical activity. 

    Unfortunately, the overall results were not that great. The survey was administered to parents of children who were going through an obesity and endocrine clinic. Even under those conditions, only 60% were ready to make dietary changes and 40% to make changes in physical activity. The readiness level in families not seeking treatment would be lower. 

    It also was discovered that parents who believed that their own weight was a health problem were less ready to make changes to their children's diets. Researchers speculate that these parents may feel frustrated or overwhelmed by their own failures to lose weight. 

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    The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


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Published On: October 15, 2014