Good news for overweight children and their parents: A study published in the journal Pediatrics today shows that small steps – and a self-help guide – help kids lose weight. “The new message is that this kind of lower intensity program seems to work,” says lead author Kerri Boutelle, a University of California at San Diego clinical psychologist. “This is low intensity. You do a lot of it at your home. You don’t have to be at an intensive program.”
Researchers gave families a parent manual a child manual, and an activities manual. Topics in these booklets included the causes of childhood obesity, relapse prevention, and the “traffic light” eating plan (“red light” foods are more calorically dense than “green light” ones), among other things. Families met with interventionists, too.
Ideally parents make the healthy changes alongside their kids. “Even teenagers need parents’ help,” says Boutelle. Kids see through parents that don’t walk their own talk all the time.”
Teach healthy habits through example. (Raise your spoon if you’ve ever modeled eating Ben & Jerry’s instead of eating carrots!) By being healthy along with your kids, you’ll lower the odds that they will join the ranks of the 31 percent of U.S. children who are overweight or obese.
Finally, remember to practice positive parenting – and motivate your children without criticism, And give hugs, not food, as a reward for a job well done.
By: Karen Springen