Praise Away Child Obesity

Managing childhood obesity with positive family focus

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Baffled by how to best help your obese child? The key may be a positive treatment program filled with plenty of praise and parental involvement.

Family involvement and praise, not punishment for missteps, appears to be the most effective way to ensure success when it comes to managing childhood obesity.

"Keep healthy snacks in your home to promote better eating habits."

Myles S. Faith, chair of the American Heart Association’s statement writing group and associate professor of Nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, noted that often adults from within the family may be the most effective change agents to help obese children attain and maintain a healthier weight.

That often means adults also may need to modify their own behavior.

The American Heart Association authors evaluated behavioral change strategies that included high involvement by parents and other adult caregivers of obese children during treatment.

Most of the treatment programs involved in the evaluation were multi-disciplinary, and included a team of psychologists, medical staff and dieticians in a university or hospital clinic setting.

They determined that obese children were more likely to be successful when praised for success. Instead of criticizing, they suggest using missteps to identify ways to make better choices next time. Food should not be withheld as punishment, they noted.

The writing group also suggested that maintaining healthier choices at home and stocking few temptations such as high-calorie treats can aid in maximizing success. Identifying the behavior to be changed, and setting and maintaining goals through a written or online tracker also can help improve the outcomes of treatment for obese children.

Previous research has revealed mixed findings when it comes to improving treatment through parental involvement. Faith indicated that may be because not all types of parental involvement are helpful.

The scientific statement was recently published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Review Date: 
January 23, 2012
Last Updated:
January 30, 2012