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

mily Wellness Program had Group Health pediatricians invite families of children who are obese to participate. As other research teams have observed before, most families didn't feel ready or willing to participate. But about one quarter did agree to take part. Of the 38 parent-child pairs who enrolled in the program, 24 completed the program of 12- to 16-week groups led by masters-level health coaches. Each coach helped families to create short- and long-term plans to achieve diet and exercise goals. Every week, the coach checked in with the family to see how they'd doneand held them accountable.

In the families that completed the program, children's body mass index (BMI) improved, on average. (Because children are still growing taller, researchers measure change by looking at "standardized" BMI units, rather than weight or BMI, as used in adults.) While the children remained obese at the end of the study, 70 percent experienced some meaningful improvement (standardized BMI decrease of 0.05) and nearly half achieved a degree of weight loss found in research studies with one-on-one treatment (standardized BMI decrease of 0.10). Parents' BMI declined by an average of 0.9: around 6 pounds.

"Parents told us that their children's quality of life improved," Dr. Lozano said. "For kids, the way we measure quality of life includes experiences like being bullied or excluded, being unable to keep up with other children, and feeling worried or angry. When parents tell us that their kids feel better about themselves in social settings and are happier, that is a tangible benefit of this kind of program."

Families did best when they had good social support from friends and relatives who joined in making healthy changes. But often a child's other parent or grandparents didn't "get with the program"instead sabotaging the family's attempts to adopt healthier habits.

What do the findings from this pilot study mean for families of children who a
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Contact: Rebecca Hughes
hughes.r@ghc.org
206-287-2055
Group Health Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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