Start Early to Reduce Your BMI

Obesity in children may be less likely after home visiting programs

(RxWiki News) Research has shown that spending less time watching TV and eating more vegetables helps children avoid obesity. Starting early, before age 2, may be the key.

A home visiting program showed early signs that it may be helpful in preventing behaviors linked to obesity, like TV watching and poor eating habits. 

By age 2, children were showing signs that the program was working.

"Talk to your pediatrician about home-visiting programs in your area"

Home-visiting programs to help children and mothers are common in many countries and many parts of the US.  In general, they begin just after a baby is born and continue for months or years with aims of helping mothers adjust to motherhood and helping babies grow into healthy children.

A new study in Australia, headed by Louise Baur, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney, looked at the effectiveness of a home-visiting program that was designed to target childhood behaviors that are linked to obesity.

A total of 667 mothers and their infants were enrolled in the study. All mothers were first-time mothers. Half of the participants received the home visits; the other half did not.

In the home-visiting program, nurses went to the homes of the participants every two to six months, and the visits were designed to match up with developmental milestones. They went for eight visits between the infants’ births and age 2.

By age 2, children who had the visits had lower body mass indexes (BMI), watched less TV, and ate more vegetables. Mothers who received the home visits were also less likely to use food as a reward than those who did not receive the visits.

The authors note that many programs to prevent obesity in children have not been tested for effectiveness. This study is one step toward creating a program that may help to prevent childhood obesity. Research is ongoing.

The study was presented May 8 at the 19th European Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, which means other scientists may not have had a chance to review the methods and data to ensure it passes their quality standards.

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Review Date: 
May 11, 2012