Research Advances in Overcoming Teen Obesity
Recent research has determined that mom’s state of health and what she eats before she becomes pregnant, has an impact on her offspring’s health. Certainly the foods she chooses to eat during pregnancy will have a direct impact on the growing baby’s health and well-being. Of course, once your child is born, the foods you choose to stock in your home and serve for meals and snacks will directly influence your growing infant’s weight and health.
If your young child develops obesity, it will likely persist during teen years and into adulthood. A new randomized clinical trial is currently recruiting participants to investigate the feasibility and efficacy or two different and distinct parent treatments on a dietary intervention for overweight and obese teens. Specifically, the trial will evaluate the behavior of parents as coaches or and also examine how their weight loss may impact teen obesity.
The study, helmed by Melanie Bean, PhD, at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia aims to identify helpful and successful strategies that parents can utilize to help their teens to lose weight. The plan is to enroll 192 teen subjects, ages 12 to 16, and their families.
In one arm of the study, PAC or parents as coaches will be the focus. Parents will be taught strategies to support and facilitate their child’s weight management, by utilizing family-based habit changes. Tools will include helping the parent to model healthy habits, how to be a coach to the teen, and how to implement healthy dietary and exercise changes on the home front. The other arm of the study, PWL or parent weight loss, will focus on helping parents (themselves) to aim for a weight loss of 1-2pounds per week, by learning calorie measures and calorie goals, diet prescriptions, longer term goal setting, and this arm of the study will utilize personal feedback to continue to create meaningful strategies for their weight loss.
These two arms will last for four months. Various assessments will happen at baseline, when the four month period is over, and again after three months at the seven month point. This clinical trial has certain criteria for participation. Results of the study will be published in 2018.
Taking part in a clinical trial is a difficult decision, and not every subject is a good match. Given the outline of the study, though, there’s ample information to simply help your teen by adopting some of the suggestions they are attempting to evaluate.
Talk to your pediatrician and create a family plan to help your obese teen.
It’s likely that you may be eligible for a consultation and follow up visits with a dietician. If not, you can create a healthier meal plan outline for your family.
Allow family members including your teen to help with menu planning, food shopping and food preparation.
Find a diet program that works for the whole family
If you are not accustomed to cooking regularly, you can find instructional videos online.
Get moving as a family, and try to find exercise opportunities especially on the weekend. Family hiking and biking can bring the family together.
Try and get your teen interested in school or after-school sports activities.
If it’s feasible, have your teen walk or bike to school. If he’s not physically able to in the beginning, make it a goal.
Be a cheerleader and coach and model the behaviors that you want your kids to embrace.