Dr. Jaime Ponce was quoted in an article about the American Heart Association’s new scientific statement on treating childhood obesity. According to the statement, parents and primary caregivers should be involved in treatment programs for obese children. By combing through and carefully evaluating research on several behavioral change strategies involving obese children, the statement authors found that parental involvement in family-based treatment is effective. While previous research on parental involvement has had mixed findings, the authors point out that not all parental involvement is helpful. Some of the specific parent-involved strategies that the statement says are most effective include identifying specific behaviors that need to be modified as a family, setting clear goals and monitoring progress toward the goals through either a written or online tracker, and creating a positive home environment that encourages healthy choices. Dr. Chris Ren Fielding from NYU agreed, saying: “losing weight as a family is a terrific – the family unit making dietary and behavior changes together”. For instance, rather than keeping high-calorie desserts at home, offering children a wide variety of fresh fruit to choose from would provide a healthier environment. In the article, Dr. Ponce explained that it is important to provide a positive home environment, but more must be done to address childhood obesity. He said, “when the home environment offers positive influences on the kids, improvements can be seen, but what is needed more is better education at all levels, better control of marketing strategies, and better stimulus for positive lifestyles.”
Georgia has some of the highest obesity rates in the country, with 40 percent of its youth overweight or obese. Addressing childhood obesity is important in both the short and long term; studies have shown that children who are obese in their early teens have an 80% chance of being obese as adults. For obese adults, weight loss surgery is often an effective treatment option. You can learn more about the options offered at the Gastric Band Institute here.