Early Treatment of Child Obesity Can Safeguard Children’s Health, Study Finds

Early Treatment of Child Obesity Can Safeguard Children’s Health, Study Finds

A recent study conducted by scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden revealed that early treatment of child obesity can effectively prevent potential long-term health risks and safeguard children’s well-being. The researchers also provide important tips for parents to address childhood obesity.

According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of obese children worldwide has increased tenfold in the past 40 years. In the United States alone, there are over 14 million obese children, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of all children. The study published in 2016 indicates that pediatric obesity can lead to heart, bladder, and liver-related health problems in adulthood. Furthermore, it can also make children more susceptible to depression at a young age.

Childhood obesity is associated with an increased risk of various diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, certain types of cancer, and mental health issues, as noted by the study authors. However, parents often tend to ignore the long-term consequences of obesity since they are not fully aware of them.

The new study tested three easy-to-implement treatment strategies for child obesity. The researchers conducted a randomized controlled study involving 170 medically diagnosed obese children aged four to six. The children and their parents were divided into three groups based on the treatment they received.

The first group received standard treatment, including sessions aimed at improving diets. The second and third groups involved only the parents, who received guidance on promoting healthy lifestyles in their families. The third group received follow-up telephone support throughout the study.

The conversations with parents focused on setting boundaries, teaching children new behaviors, and communicating with others involved in the children’s lives, such as preschools, grandparents, and neighbors. Parents were advised to involve their children in cooking, provide vegetables when they are hungry, avoid rewarding them with food, and ensure that food is not associated with emotions and achievement.

After two years, the researchers evaluated the children’s obesity and overall health. They found that all three groups showed improvements in weight, but the children whose parents received parental support, especially those who also received follow-up phone calls, had the best results. These children showed not only improvements in weight status but also better metabolic health, with improved levels of blood lipids and glucose.

The study suggests that treating obesity during childhood is more effective than waiting until adolescence. By addressing the factors contributing to obesity early on, parents have a better chance of success in preventing long-term health problems and avoiding more complex treatments, such as bariatric surgery.

Overall, the study highlights the importance of early intervention in combating child obesity. Parents play a crucial role in promoting healthy habits and lifestyle choices, and their active involvement can significantly impact their children’s health outcomes.

Source: International Journal of Obesity

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