Nav: Home

Treating childhood obesity: A family affair

May 01, 2012

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - May 1, 2012 - With nearly one-third of American children being overweight or obese, doctors agree that there is an acute need for more effective treatments. In many weight management programs, the dropout rate can be as high as 73 percent, and even in successful programs, the benefits are usually short term.

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.
-end-
Funding for the study was provided by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Duke Endowment and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Foundation.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Related Obesity Articles:

Obesity is in the eye of the beholder
Doctors have a specific definition of what it means to be overweight or obese, but in the social world, gender, race and generation matter a lot for whether people are judged as 'thin enough' or 'too fat.'
Type 2 diabetes and obesity -- what do we really know?
Social and economic factors have led to a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world.
Three in 4 don't know obesity causes cancer
Three out of four (75 percent) people in the UK are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer, according to a new Cancer Research UK report published today.
Obesity on the rise in Indonesia
Obesity is on the rise in Indonesia, one of the largest studies of the double burden of malnutrition in children has revealed.
Obesity rates are not declining in US youth
A clear and significant increase in obesity continued from 1999 through 2014, according to an analysis of data on United States children and adolescents age 2 to 19 years.
How does the environment affect obesity?
Researchers will be examining how agricultural and food processing practices may affect brown fat activity directly or indirectly.
Obesity Day to highlight growing obesity epidemic in Europe
The growing obesity epidemic, which is predicted to affect more than half of all European citizens by 2030, will be the focus of European Obesity Day to be held on May 21.
Understanding obesity from the inside out
Researchers developed a new laboratory method that allowed them to identify GABA as a key player in the complex brain processes that control appetite and metabolism.
Epigenetic switch for obesity
Obesity can sometimes be shut down.
Immunological Aspects of Obesity
This FASEB Conference focuses on the interactions between obesity and immune cells, focusing in particular on how inflammation in various organs influences obesity and obesity-related complications.

Related Obesity Reading:

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss
by Dr. Jason Fung (Author), Timothy Noakes (Foreword)

Fung zeroes in on why insulin resistance has become so prevalent and offers specific outside-the-box solutions that have emerged as the key to maximizing health."
—Jimmy Moore, author, Keto Clarity and Cholesterol Clarity


Everything you believe about how to lose weight is wrong. Weight gain and obesity are driven by hormones—in everyone—and only by understanding the effects of insulin and insulin resistance can we achieve lasting weight loss.

In this highly readable and provocative book, Dr. Jason Fung sets out an original, robust theory of obesity... View Details


Obesity: Evaluation and Treatment Essentials, Second Edition
by G. Michael Steelman (Editor), Eric C. Westman (Editor)

Obesity is considered a complex and multifactorial disease. Its treatment, therefore, must also be multimodal and tailored to meet the needs of each patient. Obesity: Evaluation and Treatment Essentials presents a wide spectrum of practical treatment protocols for obesity including exercise, pharmacology, behavior modification, and dietary factors, from the point of view of the practicing physician.

The book includes information about the new pharmacotherapy available for the treatment of obesity. It also includes a chapter on medical treatment of pediatric obesity that... View Details


The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it?
by Zoe harcombe (Author)

"The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it?" does what it says in the title - it answers those two critical questions. It takes you on the journey that the author, Zoe Harcombe went on to answer those questions and hopefully it will shock you as much as it shocked her. The starting point must be - when did The Obesity Epidemic start? The graphs and tables show a stunning increase in obesity levels at the turn of the 1980's and obesity literally takes off, like an aeroplane trajectory, from that point onwards. Obesity in the UK, as an example, increases almost 10 fold between... View Details


The Obesity Paradox: When Thinner Means Sicker and Heavier Means Healthier
by Carl J. Lavie M.D. (Author)

Most of us think that longevity hinges on maintaining a normal Body Mass Index. But research conducted over the last decade hit the media in January with explosive news: Overweight and even moderately obese people with certain chronic diseases—from heart disease to cancer— often live longer and fare better than normalweight individuals with the same ailments.

In this groundbreaking book, Carl Lavie, MD, reveals the science behind the obesity paradox and shows us how to achieve maximum health rather than minimum weight. Lavie not only explains how extra fat provides additional fuel... View Details


Practical Manual of Clinical Obesity
by Robert Kushner (Author), Victor Lawrence (Author), Sudhesh Kumar (Author)

This accessible guide to obesity and its clinical management provides clear, didactic, clinically focused guidance for all healthcare professionals involved in the treatment and management of patients with obesity, thus acting as a repository of essential practical knowledge. It is an ideal practical guide for registrars and residents in endocrinology and metabolic disease, as well as all other health professionals who regularly manage obese patients, such as specialist obesity and diabetes nurses, dietitians, and general practitioners with an interest in obesity management. View Details


The Obesity Epidemic: Why Diets and Exercise Don't Work―and What Does
by Robyn Toomath (Author)

In a world where charlatans promise to fix the alarming obesity epidemic with a silver-bullet diet or trendy new exercise program, Robyn Toomath, a physician and realist, steps out of the fray to deliver some tough news: it’s really hard to lose weight. Dispelling common myths and telling provocative truths about weight gain―and loss―The Obesity Epidemic is an engaging investigation into the complicated factors that lead to obesity.

While genes certainly play a part, Toomath argues, more people are fat than ever before because most of us consume significantly more... View Details


Summary of Jason Fung's The Obesity Code: Key Takeaways & Analysis
by Sumoreads (Author)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a summary, analysis and review of the book and not the original book.

Extensive research makes "The Obesity Code" a time machine to back when Western countries became fat nations, an extensive exploration of the hormonal human body, an exposé of the pervasive myths that keep people fat, and a clear path to systematic weight loss.

This SUMOREADS Summary & Analysis offers supplementary material to "The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss" to help you distill the key takeaways, review the book's content, and further... View Details


Obesity Cancer & Depression: Their Common Cause & Natural Cure
by F. Batmanghelidj (Author)

This book, the result of over 20 years of research, looks at the conditions of obesity, cancer and depression through a new physiological perspective and offers a new approach in preventing and treating these conditions View Details


Obesity: Etiology, Assessment, Treatment and Prevention
by Ross Andersen (Author)

Obesity: Etiology, Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention is a comprehensive professional reference of weight management research and techniques. Featuring chapters from some of the world's top specialists in the field of weight control, it provides the most current and accurate information available today for treating obesity.

The textbook combines a literature review with practical applications, incorporating expert analysis and synthesis of obesity treatment and prevention. The book is an important resource that will prepare health professionals and clinicians to help... View Details


The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health
by Paul Campos (Author)

A provocative exposé of America's self-defeating war on obesity challenges conventional wisdom regarding the cultural, medical, and political meaning of weight, arguing against the myth that falsely equates thinness with health and explaining why dieting is bad for the health, how the media misinform the public, and the link between racial and body-based prejudice. 35,000 first printing. View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Simple Solutions
Sometimes, the best solutions to complex problems are simple. But simple doesn't always mean easy. This hour, TED speakers describe the innovation and hard work that goes into achieving simplicity. Guests include designer Mileha Soneji, chef Sam Kass, sleep researcher Wendy Troxel, public health advocate Myriam Sidibe, and engineer Amos Winter.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#448 Pavlov (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning about the life and work of a groundbreaking physiologist whose work on learning and instinct is familiar worldwide, and almost universally misunderstood. We'll spend the hour with Daniel Todes, Ph.D, Professor of History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, discussing his book "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science."