Targeting Parents Leads to Sustained Child Weight Loss

A healthy lifestyle supports weight loss for obese children, which can be maintained for two years

THURSDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Approaches that specifically target parents can result in significant weight loss in moderately obese prepubertal children, according to a study published online Jan. 24 in Pediatrics.

Anthea M. Magarey, Ph.D., from Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial of 169 moderately obese children who were 5 to 9 years of age. Parents were targeted as the agents of change and were randomly assigned to take a six-month health lifestyle course alone or in combination with a parenting training course. The children's body mass index (BMI) and waist z scores were measured at the end of the parenting training, and then at six-month intervals during a two-year follow-up period. The researchers also studied the impact of the training course on parenting outcomes measured by questionnaires assessing factors, such as parental feelings of satisfaction and efficacy in their role.

The investigators found that there were similar statistically significant 10-percent reductions in the BMI and waist z scores for both groups of children over the first six-month period, which was maintained for 24 months. There was no significant difference in the group with healthy lifestyle plus parenting training compared with the healthy lifestyle-only group. Improvement was also seen in the parenting outcomes, but similarly showed no difference between groups.

"Overall, this study demonstrates that a relative weight loss of ~10 percent is achievable and can be maintained for up to two years in moderately obese prepubertal children and provides support for a parent-only approach," the authors write.

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