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Group treatment may help children achieve healthier weights
Date:12/18/2008

GAINESVILLE, Fla. Group-based treatment programs may effectively combat childhood obesity in rural communities, according to a new University of Florida study.

Children who participated in one of two group programs family-based or parent-only were less overweight compared with children in a control group. The findings appear in the December issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

The UF study is the first to assess the effectiveness of a child weight-management program in a real-world, community-based setting for families in rural areas.

"Given the scope and seriousness of obesity in America and the limited access to services for children in rural settings, there is a pressing need for programs that help rural families adopt healthy dietary habits and increase physical activity," said David Janicke, Ph.D., lead investigator and an assistant professor in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions' department of clinical and health psychology.

More than 16 percent of rural children are obese compared with 14 percent of urban children. Factors contributing to the disparity include greater rates of poverty in rural areas and geographical barriers that limit access to medical care, healthy foods and facilities for physical activity.

The study involved 93 children and their parents from four rural counties in Florida. The children were between the ages of 8 and 14 and had a body mass index, or BMI, above the 85th percentile for age and sex, based on growth charts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children with BMI scores above the 85th percentile are considered overweight or obese. Families were randomly assigned to one of three four-month treatment groups: family-based, parent-only or a control group made up of families on the treatment wait list.

On average, children in the weight-management programs experienced greater decreases in BMI scores compared wit
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Contact: Jill Pease
jpease@phhp.ufl.edu
352-273-5816
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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