A new report from the American Heart Association, which analyzed successful ways to help children lose weight, also found that parents need to lead by example, praise their children’s success and help them learn from any setbacks.
“In many cases, the adults in a family may be the most effective change agents to help obese children attain and maintain a healthier weight, said Myles S. Faith, chairman of the AHA statement writing group in a press release. “To do so, the adults may need to modify their own behavior and try some research-based strategies.”
More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, according to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To be considered obese, a person must have a body mass index of 30 or greater. About 17 percent of children and youths nationwide qualify as obese. Nearly 32 percent are either overweight or obese.
For the AHA report, the authors evaluated research that’s been done on “behavioral change strategies that included high involvement by parents and other adult caregivers of obese children in the context of treatment programs.”
Some of the strategies include:
- Identify specific behaviors that need to be changed.
- Set goals with specific details such as limited television viewing to two hours.
- Don’t offer high calorie desserts regularly. Always give children access to healthy food choices such as keeping a fruit bowl within their reach.
- Praise children’s progress and use lapses as opportunities to learn.
- Never use food as a reward or punishment.
- Write down any progress toward a goal.
Source: American Heart Association
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