Treating childhood obesity: A family affairMay 03, 2012
Although family-based approaches to pediatric obesity are considered the gold standard of treatment, theories of the family and how it functions have not been incorporated into effective interventions, according to a study published in the May issue of the International Journal of Obesity by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
"The field of family studies provides an innovative approach to the difficult problem of pediatric obesity, building on the long-established approach of family-based treatment," said Joseph Skelton, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and director of the Brenner FIT (Families in Training) Program at Wake Forest Baptist, and lead author of the study.
Skelton and his research team reviewed medical literature published between 1990 and 2011 to identify the use of prominent family theories in pediatric obesity research. Of the 76 manuscripts found, 13 were selected for the study.
Wake Forest Baptist researchers found limited use of family theories in the study of pediatric obesity, particularly in weight management treatments. Family behavioral theories can provide valuable insight into the complexities of families, and increased use of these theories in both research and practice may help in the development of more effective treatments for childhood obesity, the study found.
"Traditionally doctors looked at the patient as the one in the family to focus on, but now we have to look at the entire family as the patient," Skelton said.
"One of the problems we found was that there wasn't even a clear definition of family in the literature. A two-parent household with a stay-at-home mother and working father is no longer the norm. Inability to define the family makes it difficult to apply a straightforward model of family function to child health and weight management."
In the clinic setting, families are often represented by a child and a parent, typically the mother. However, this often does not accurately reflect family complexity and it doesn't define which family members should be included in treatment, Skelton said.
A common theme in the field of family studies is that families are a system, made up of interdependent units. Intervening with one unit, such as a mother and a child, will influence other units. These interpersonal relationships influence the health behaviors of the child and the family as a whole, according to the study.
"The challenge is to find ways to incorporate the entire family in the process, while allowing for different schedules and different age kids with different health needs," Skelton said. "If we don't find more effective treatments and this epidemic continues, these children will likely go on to become obese adults, resulting in an entire generation with lower life expectancies than their parents' generation."
Skelton and his team at Brenner FIT have begun incorporating theories of the family into their research and in their treatment approach, and are finding ways to engage more members of the family in treatment.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Related Obesity Current Events and Obesity News Articles
Depressed? Researchers identify new anti-depressant mechanisms, therapeutic approaches
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center are making breakthroughs that could benefit people suffering from depression.
Male health linked to testosterone exposure in womb, study finds
Men's susceptibility to serious health conditions may be influenced by low exposure to testosterone in the womb, new research suggests.
CT measures potentially dangerous arterial plaque in diabetic patients
Imaging of the coronary arteries with computed tomography (CT) angiography provides an accurate assessment of arterial plaque and could have a dramatic impact on the management of diabetic patients who face a high risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events.
Researchers identify a mechanism linking bariatric surgery to health benefits
Bariatric surgery has positive effects not only on weight loss but also on diabetes and heart disease. Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy and University of Cincinnati have shown that the health benefits are not caused by a reduction in the stomach size but by increased levels of bile acids in the blood.
Weight gain in children occurs after tonsil removal, not linked to obesity
Weight gain in children after they have their tonsils removed (adenotonsillectomy) occurs primarily in children who are smaller and younger at the time of the surgery, and weight gain was not linked with increased rates of obesity.
Food shortages could be most critical world issue by mid-century
The world is less than 40 years away from a food shortage that will have serious implications for people and governments, according to a top scientist at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Researchers: Obesity can amplify bone and muscle loss
Florida State University researchers have identified a new syndrome called "osteosarcopenic obesity" that links the deterioration of bone density and muscle mass with obesity.
Key milestone for brown fat research with a ground-breaking MRI scan
The first MRI scan to show 'brown fat' in a living adult could prove to be an essential step towards a new wave of therapies to aid the fight against diabetes and obesity.
Vitamin D deficiency contributes to poor mobility among severely obese people
Among severely obese people, vitamin D may make the difference between an active and a more sedentary lifestyle.
Body Mass Index associated with breast cancer, regardless of body shape
A study of predominantly white women finds a larger waist circumference is associated with higher risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, but not beyond its contribution to BMI.
More Obesity Current Events and Obesity News Articles