A recent study conducted by researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has found that early treatment of childhood obesity is successful in both the short and long term. The study, which was published in The International Journal of Obesity, monitored over 170 young children diagnosed with obesity.
The children and their parents were randomly assigned to one of three treatment conditions: standard treatment, parental support group, or parental support group with follow-up telephone support. The standard treatment group received meetings focusing on diet and exercise with healthcare professionals. The two parental support groups focused on how parents could promote healthy lifestyles in a positive way and without conflict.
The results of the study showed that all three groups saw improvement in weight status and a reduction in the degree of obesity. However, the children whose parents received parental support had the best results, particularly those who also received follow-up phone calls. These children showed a clinically relevant improvement in weight status and better metabolic health.
Professor Paulina Nowicka, the principal investigator of the study, highlighted the importance of building a clear structure at home and creating a positive relationship with food. She emphasized the need to involve children in cooking, offer vegetables when they’re hungry, and avoid using food as a reward.
The study suggests that early treatment of obesity has a lasting effect and is more effective than treating children in their teens. The researchers hope that by addressing childhood obesity early on, the need for more invasive interventions like bariatric surgery can be avoided.
The study was a collaboration among researchers from Karolinska Institutet, Uppsala University, Warwick Medical School, and Oxford University. It was funded by the Centrum for Innovative Medicine (CIMED) and the Masonic Home for Children in Stockholm Foundation.
– The International Journal of Obesity