How to help your child lose weight Lead by example and shed the pounds yourself first
Obese children were most likely to lose weight if their parents did at the same time
16:51 GMT, 15 March 2012
Parents wondering how to help their overweight children to slim down could do well to take a long, hard look in the mirror.
Researchers found that obese youngsters were far more successful at shedding the excess pounds if their parents got in shape with them.
'We looked at things such as parenting skills and styles, or changing the
home food environment, and how they impacted a child's weight,' said study author Dr Kerri N.
Boutelle at UC San Diego.
Support: The best predictor of child weight loss was if the parents had slimmed down at the same time
'The number one way in which parents can
help an obese child lose weight Lose weight themselves. In this study, it was
the most important predictor of child weight loss.'
Researchers from UC San Diego and the University of Minnesota looked at eighty parent-child groups with an 8 to 12-year-old
overweight or obese child. They participated in a parent-only or parent and child
treatment program for five months.
The study focused on evaluating the impact of three types of parenting skills
taught in family-based behavioral treatment for childhood obesity, and the
impact of each on the child's body weight.
These were: Behaviors to
help the parents lose weight and act as a role model, changes in the home food environment and parenting techniques (such as the ability to limit the child's
The researchers found it was only when the parents slimmed down that the children consistently did likewise.
They concluded in the journal Obesity that doctors should focus on encouraging parents
to lose weight to help their overweight or obese child in weight management.
'Parents are the most significant people in a child's environment, serving as
the first and most important teachers,' said Dr Boutelle.
'They play a significant
role in any weight-loss program for children, and this study confirms the
importance of their example in establishing healthy eating and exercise
behaviors for their kids.'
Recent figures suggests that around a third of children in the U.S and the UK are overweight or obese.