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Families like practical group wellness program -- and lose weight
Date:6/12/2014

Seattle, WAMany children are obese these days, but what can be done about it? Research-proven treatments for obesity exist, but they rely on regular one-on-one meetings with a trained health coach. So these "behavioral" treatments are seldom available outside of research studies in specialty medical centers.

It's feasible and acceptable to give this same kind of behavioral treatment to groups of families in primary care, Paula Lozano, MD, MPH, found. She published results of the Family Wellness Program in the Permanente Journal. She is a Group Health pediatrician and assistant medical director of preventive careand a Group Health Research Institute senior investigator.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening children for obesity from age 6 yearsand referring children who are obese to intensive behavioral treatment. This kind of treatment provides information about healthy eating and physical activity. It also gives parents and children a place to share their experiences and get social support. But that's not all.

"Most important, behavioral treatment teaches parents and children skills like tracking their eating and activity, setting goals and holding themselves accountable for working toward those goals," Dr. Lozano said. Behavioral treatment also involves taking a look at the child's environment (the home, school friends' and relatives' homes) and trying to promote healthy behaviors by making small changes across all these places where children eat and are active. "This approach has been proven to create and sustain healthy changes in lifestyle," she added.

Although this kind of treatment has been proven effective, it's disappointingly hard to find. "That's why we set out to adapt family-based behavioral treatment to a real-world setting: in this case, primary care," she said. "And we found that it was feasible, families liked it, and parents and children lost weight."

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Contact: Rebecca Hughes
hughes.r@ghc.org
206-287-2055
Group Health Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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