News Flash: Parents Can Help Kids Overcome Obesity

A new study focused on helping pre-teens overcome childhood obesity shows that parents could be the most effective weapon in the battle against the bulge. Obesity researchers revealed yesterday in the journal Pediatrics that “parent-centered” treatments could effectively replace all other outside obesity interventions in their own kids’ lives.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed a troubling rise in “self-anointed surrogate parents” trying their exert their influence on everyday family decisions that are not theirs to make. Whether it’s removing sweets from school cafeterias or demanding the food industry cut back or eliminate their marketing of kid-focused products, one fact can’t be disputed: With all this outside intervention, some kids are still overweight and obese.

Maybe it’s time to for parents to reclaim responsibility for their own children's diets and healthy lifestyles. That’s exactly what researchers funded by the Australian government revealed this week.

Australian researchers recruited 165 overweight children between 5 and 9 years old, and paired them and their parent(s) with accredited dieticians. Participants were randomly assigned for six months to one of three programs: a parent-centered dietary modification program, a child-centered physical activity and skill development program, or a combination of both programs.

Two years later, researchers re-examined the children and learned that all three groups successfully helped overweight children reduce their Body-Mass Indexes (BMI) and waist circumferences to healthy levels. But the lost weight “commonly beg[an] to rebound by the 12-month follow-up,” indicating that the parent-centered approach excelled where others had regularly failed.

Perhaps most significant is that the study’s authors believe parent-centered programs could become the primary, if not the sole, focus of childhood obesity programs. Specifically, researchers declared that parents are the “first line” of defense.

Too often, America's self-anointed “food police” try to dismiss or ignore parental responsibility instead of encouraging it, as with the recent pushes for toy bans and marketing restrictions. And governments are getting into the act too.

What do meddling nanny-state bureaucrats have to lose by allowing parents to be role models, mentors, and active participants in shaping their children’s lives for the better? For starters, money flowing into the government’s coffers. Parents and their family physicians are more capable of helping overweight kids slim down than those who’ve turned it into their “business.”

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