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Study: Family Intervention, Parent Education Reduce Childhood Obesity (ContributorNetwork)

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A study published in the February issue of Pediatrics shows family intervention aimed at improving parenting skills reduced behavior problems in kids and obesity and associated health problems. One-third of Americans, including children ages 2 to 17, are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. Here are details about parent-child interventions.

* Family interventions with children who are obese became a hot topic when several overweight kids were removed from their homes and placed in foster care last year. In July, Reuters reported on Harvard professor and pediatrician Dr. David S. Ludwig, who wrote an article advising "family intervention" for morbidly obese kids that included taking them from their parents and placing them in foster care.

* Though obesity is a growing problem, taking kids from their homes for being overweight is an arguably unethical and illegal family intervention, says the CDC. The scope of parental rights and responsibilities and definition of child abuse and neglect pose dilemmas. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics compares several options, including home visits and parental education strategies. Some therapies teach parents and kids how to collaborate on health concerns, nutrition and weight loss issues.

* In an effort to understand whether family intervention helps with childhood obesity and what kinds of intervention work best, the Pediatrics study followed 186 minority children beginning at age 4 who were at risk for behavior problems and health issues.

* Family Intervention aimed to improve parenting skills and help kids manage their behavior; it did not address physical health. After five years, children in families who received intervention had lower body mass indexes, fewer blood pressure problems and sedentary behavior issues, higher activity levels and improved health behaviors overall.

* Study authors concluded family intervention that includes parental effectiveness training and behavior management strategies for children contributes to a reduction in weight problems and health issues later in life.

Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben writes about parenting concerns from 23 years raising four children and 25 years teaching K-8, special needs, adult education and home-school.

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