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

h children in the control group six months after treatment. Compared with their pre-treatment levels, children in weight-management groups were 4 percent less overweight, and children in the control group were about 3 percent more overweight at the end of the six-month period.

Although the weight changes may appear modest, they are in line with the researchers' goal of helping children make gradual changes to their diet and lifestyles. In addition, the children's weight loss approached the amount necessary for improvements in lipid and blood sugar levels, according to previous research.

"When working with children it's important to introduce lifestyle changes slowly and make it fun, otherwise they may become resistant," Janicke said. "Making big changes in their diets could lead to unhealthy habits like skipping meals, eating disorders or weight gain."

The weight control programs were conducted at Cooperative Extension Service offices. Participants received instruction on healthy diet choices and children were given pedometers and encouraged to gradually increase their daily steps. Families and group leaders worked together to set individualized dietary goals based on the children's progress and preferences.

In the parent-only treatment group, parents received training on nutrition, exercise and behavior management strategies for their children. In the family-based group, parents and children met separately but in simultaneous groups. While the parents received instruction, the children reviewed their progress, participated in a physical activity and learned how to prepare a healthy snack.

"In the group setting families can talk with each other about barriers to making changes, offer suggestions and hold each other accountable," Janicke said.

While the parent-only and family-based groups were effective, the parent-only format offers potential cost benefits, the researchers say. Parent-only programs require fewer
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Contact: Jill Pease
jpease@phhp.ufl.edu
352-273-5816
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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