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Maintenance Treatment Helps Kids Keep Weight Off
Date:10/9/2007

Effect does wane over time, study finds

TUESDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Maintenance treatment programs might help children who've lost weight keep it off, new research suggests.

However, the study also found that the effect of the maintenance programs wears off over time, suggesting the need for longer follow-up programs to help children maintain healthier lifestyles.

"We were excited by the results of this study. Clearly, maintenance treatment was better than no treatment at all. But, for kids, like adults, weight-loss maintenance is challenging and requires continued vigilance," said study author Denise Wilfley, a professor of psychiatry, medicine and pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Finding effective ways to help children lose weight and keep it off is becoming increasingly important. The number of American children who are overweight has tripled in recent decades, according to background information in the study, which appears in the Oct. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to government estimates, that means about one in five children in the United States is currently overweight. As in adults, excess weight in children can contribute to a number of illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Because the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children is a relatively recent phenomenon, there haven't been many studies looking at effective ways to help youngsters lose weight and then maintain that weight loss.

In the current study, Wilfley and her colleagues recruited a group of 7- to 12-year-old children from San Diego. Wilfley was working at San Diego State University at the start of this study. All of the 204 youngsters had a BMI between 20 percent and 100 percent above the average BMI for their age and gender, and at least one overweight parent. The average BMI for the group was more than 60
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