A Moment of Science

What’s The Best Way To Help Kids Lose Weight?

According a recent study, there's only really one proven way to help kids lose weight, and that's by parents losing weight themselves.

three kids walking on a trail in the forest

Photo: vastateparksstaff (Flickr)

Losing weight can be difficult - especially for children.

You’ve probably heard that something like a third of all kids in the United States are overweight or obese. And you’ve probably also heard or read about all sorts of possible solutions: getting rid of sugary snacks and sodas in schools, changing the home food environment, proper parenting skills to promote weight loss…

But according a recent study, there’s only really one proven way to help kids lose weight, and that’s by parents losing weight themselves.

Overweight Kids And Overweight Parents

Now, of course, not all overweight kids have overweight parents who need to or even should lose weight. But other studies have shown that being overweight or obese tends to run in families. And as the recent study suggests, parents setting a weight loss example is far and away the best method for helping kids slim down.

The researchers looked at eighty 8 to 12 year old overweight or obese children and their parents. The parent child pairs participated in a parent only or a parent plus child weight treatment program for five months.

The programs focused on various techniques, including introducing more healthful foods into the home, limiting how much kids ate, exercising with the child, and parent weight loss. The study concluded that it was the latter that was most effective.

Following Advice

And it’s not difficult to fathom why. It’s one thing to tell your kids to eat less junk and more vegetables and be more active. But if you’re not following your own advice, why should your kids? If, though, you talk the talk and walk the walk, shedding pounds becomes less of a burden and more something that parents and kids do together.

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