Can Family-Based Treatment Have an Impact on Childhood Obesity?

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Can Family-Based Treatment Have an Impact on Childhood Obesity?

Jim Windell

           Pediatric obesity is one of the major global health challenges of the 21st century.

          In the U.S., though, according to the CDC, the prevalence of obesity among youth was 19.3% and even among children two to five the obesity prevalence was 13.4%. This means that as many as 14 million children and adolescents are overweight which further suggests that these kids are at serious risk of adverse health consequences. And that these risks may follow them into adulthood.

           What is the best treatment for childhood obesity?

           Previous research recommends family-based behavioral treatment. In fact, some studies  have shown that family-based treatment carried out in research clinics yields significant loss of weight for obese kids. These findings have been confirmed in a new study published in Clinical Obesity.

           The new research was study was carried out at the Outpatient Clinic, Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway, and represents the first attempt to deliver family-based behavioral treatment (FBSFT) within the Norwegian public healthcare system. The purpose of the research was to see if weight reduction could reduce the risk of comorbidities, such as diabetes or other metabolic diseases related to obesity. The behavioral treatment was developed by a research group from the University of Washington and involves both school and leisure activities and consists of an intensive treatment program with 17 sessions spread over six months.

           The results of the study showed that there were significantly more weight-related outcomes than are typically found in treatments provided to children who are six to 18 years of age and experience severe obesity. In addition, the research found that more children receiving FBSFT achieved a clinically meaningful body mass index standard deviation score reduction of greater than 25 % as compared to children receiving the usual treatment. Furthermore, researchers concluded that the beneficial changes in weight outcomes exhibited by the children in this study could not be explained by differences in sleep, physical activity, or eating behavior. 

           Thus, the conclusion of the researchers is that family-based treatment provides a significantly greater weight reduction for young people than ordinary treatment.

           To read this study, find it with this reference:

Hanna F. Skjåkødegård, Rachel P. K. Conlon, Sigurd W. Hystad, Mathieu Roelants, Sven J. G. Olsson, Bente Frisk, Denise E. Wilfley, Yngvild S. Danielsen & Petur B. Juliusson. (2022). Family-based treatment of children with severe obesity in a public healthcare setting: Results from a randomized controlled trial. Clinical Obesity, e12513. doi: 10.1111/cob.12513.


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