The authors concluded that the combination of parent training and nutrition education administered to low-income mothers of preschool-age Latino children can reverse the anticipated curve of increased BMI scores for at least one year after the start of treatment.
In addition, the researchers found:
• Interventions that combine high-priority issues such as parenting with the promotion of nutrition and physical activity are promising in promoting health and wellness among low-income families.
• Parenting interventions are in high demand among service providers in communities serving preschool families.
• Interventions for parents of young children should take place in the communities they live in and/or gather in on a regular basis.
“This study suggests that parents are in the ideal position to influence the long-term dietary and physical activity of their children,” said study co-author Fred Frankel, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “By coupling the topics of nutrition and physical activity along with building parenting skills, mothers can be equipped with the skills and knowledge to reverse the obesity trend.”
The next stage of research will involve studying the pilot intervention program in a larger population and with populations that have different demographics.
The Child Obesity Epidemic
It is clear from reviewing childhood obesity statistics that childhood obesity has been increasing the last 20 to 30 years:
only 5% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 were considered overweight in a 1971-1974 survey, while 13.9% of children at this age were overweight in a more recent 2003-2004 survey
only 4% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 were considered overweight in a 1971-1974 survey, while 18.8% of children at this age were overweight in a more recent 2003-2004 survey
only 6.1% of children between the ages of 12 and 19 were considered overweight in a 1971-1974 survey, while 17.4% of children at this age were overweight in a more recent 2003-2004 survey
Fortunately, childhood obesity rates have been holding steady since 2003, with no increases in the rate of obesity.
The study was funded by the Joseph Drown Foundation, the Simms/Mann Family Foundation and the Venice Family Clinic.
Additional co-authors included Kristel Robison, Heidi Fischer, William G. Cumberland and Dr. Charlotte Neumann.
Frankel, Slusser and Neumann may potentially publish a manual to train facilitators to run parent-training groups based on the modules used in this study. No other authors of this article have existing competing financial interests.
Obesity Facts and Statistics
Other important facts about childhood obesity that can be helpful include that:
3,500 calories is equal to pound of fat, for example, whether your child eats an extra 3,500 calories each month to gain an extra pound or burns an extra 3,500 calories to lose a pound
participating in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity on most days can help your child maintain a healthy weight
more than one or two hours of screen time (TV, computers, video games) each day is a risk factor for childhood obesity
overweight teenagers have a 70% chance of becoming overweight adults
less than one-third of adults are at a healthy weight
If your child is overweight, you should likely work with your pediatrician and/or a registered dietitian to help him lose weight.
Source: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences