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Doctors' Efforts to Fight Childhood Obesity Not Working

Study suggests officials might need to rethink strategies

FRIDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers are recommending that officials in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia rethink their efforts to combat obesity in children because the current strategies -- emphasizing healthy diets and exercise -- aren't working.

In a study released online Sept. 4 in BMJ, Australian researchers followed more than 250 overweight and mildly obese Australian children who visited their general practitioners between 2005 and 2006. A total of 139 were given counseling over three months about changing their eating habits and increasing exercise; the other 119 did not get such counseling.

Parents said the kids who received counseling drank fewer soft drinks, but they didn't eat more fruit or vegetables or less fat, and they didn't lose significant amounts of weight.

The researchers reported that brief, physician-led intervention produced no long-term improvement in body mass index, physical activity or nutrition habits.

The counseling isn't harmful, the study authors noted, but it doesn't seem to work and is expensive.

"Resources may be better divided between primary prevention at the community and population levels, and enhancement of clinical treatment options for children with established obesity," the researchers concluded.

More information

For more on childhood obesity, go to U.S. National Library of Medicine.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: BMJ, news release, Sept. 4, 2009

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