Lifestyle Changes Effective Against Child Obesity

Posted by Admin on February 19, 2009
Obese children and teenagers can lose significant weight through lifestyle changes that are occasionally paired with medication, a Dutch team has found in reviewing 64 randomized, controlled studies from five continents. The overview found that what is known as behavioral lifestyle therapy produces good weight-loss results. Such therapy focused on changing children's thinking patterns and behaviors by teaching them, for example, to have breakfast and to eat regular, portion-controlled meals. Teaching kids to reduce inactive conduct such as watching TV, and to increase physical activity, is also beneficial. To change thinking patterns that promoted unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity, children were educated in using techniques such as self-awareness, self-monitoring, stress management and goal setting.
"More than 30 percent of children and adolescents in the Americas - are overweight or obese," said lead reviewer Hiltje Oude Luttikhuis, of the Beatrix Children's Hospital in Groningen, the Netherlands. "Even in the Netherlands, this prevalence in childhood obesity is going up. We conducted this study because we wanted to understand how best to intervene."The work appeared in The Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international nonprofit that evaluates medical research. The review found that the most encouraging studies pointed up the importance of using a combination of diet, physical activity and behavior change to reduce weight - all coupled with a generous portion of parental involvement. All together, the 64 studies included 5,230 subjects. Fifty-four of the studies, encompassing 3,806 participants, focused on changing some aspect of lifestyle, especially in the areas of diet, physical activity or other behaviors. The other 10 studies, with 1,424 participants, focused on using drugs, in addition to lifestyle changes. Researchers used the drugs orlistat and sibutramine on moderately to severely obese teens. Orlistat is taken with meals and inhibits the absorption of fats. Sibutramine suppresses appetite, making the subject feel full. Because of the drugs' side effects, Oude Luttikhuis said, drug therapy should be used, if it's used at all, in combination with lifestyle interventions.
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