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Approaches to Childhood Obesity Treatment

There is a multitude of approaches to childhood obesity treatment. According to Kumar and Kelly (2017), the first stage of standard childhood obesity treatment focuses on dietary recommendations and physical activity. These include eating more fruits and vegetables and limiting the use of the computer. The second stage involves a personalized diet, supervision, and at least 1 hour of vigorous physical activity per day. Stage 3 is characterized by monitoring and the use of behavioral strategies. Stage 4 makes use of diet replacement, medications, and surgery.

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Kumar and Kelly (2017) state that the effectiveness of medication treatment of childhood obesity is limited, as the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of children and adolescents is Orlistat. It is a lipase inhibitor that blocks fat absorption. Its results are modest when compared to the placebo group, and it has plenty of side effects. At the same time, Kumar and Kelly (2017) note that family-participation therapy lends far better results when compared to the participation of child only, thus supporting the proposed intervention.

Familial and community involvement has been noted to have a good effect on the longevity of treatment results. According to Hoffman et al. (2017), although family assistance and community involvement do not lend any immediate changes during the 6-month weight-loss treatment when compared to standard clinical practices, it provided more effective treatment hours, improved physical activity, and increased the quality of life.

According to the researchers, family involvement contributed significantly to the retention of valuable habits and skills that could potentially prevent the disorder from happening again. The results of this control trial conflict with statements made by Kumar and Kelly (2017) on the immediate effects of parental education and involvement, but confirm the long-term preventive value of such an intervention.

A review of existing obesity-management strategies by Dietz et al. (2015), published in the Lancet, touches on the subject of family training and community-based interventions. It states that, although there is a consensus that the weight-loss strategy must be focused not just on the child, but also on the family as a whole, there is very little research done on the matter. Dietz et al. (2015) also state that efficient models either do not exist or show little effectiveness.

This assessment of the situation conflicts with Kumar and Kelly (2017) as well as with Hoffman et al. (2017). However, it could be due to the Lancet’s publication being older. Nevertheless, the article highlights the importance of researching family education and intervention strategies for childhood obesity. It is also likely that the review performed by Dietz et al. (2015) focused more on the immediate results of the interventions rather than on the longitudinal study of their effects.

As parents have a decisive influence on children as well as their dietary and activity patterns, it is only logical that education interventions must be aimed at them and not just the child. According to Callender and Thompson (2018, p. 81), “parents serve a primary role in creating the home environment and are critical stakeholders in developing and encouraging healthy lifestyle behaviors in their children.” The intervention they proposed involved sending informational messages to parents of African-American girls by mail or by phone.

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The messages contained articles on physical activity, healthy dietary choices, and other useful information. Callender and Thompson (2018) state that the intervention was effective and well-received by both parents and teachers. These findings further support the need for a parent-focused educational program to combat childhood obesity.

References

Callender, C., & Thompson, D. (2018). Family TXT: Feasibility and acceptability of a Mhealth obesity prevention program for parents of pre-adolescent African American girls. Children, 5(6), 81.

Dietz, W. H., Baur, L. A., Hall, K., Puhl, R. M., Taveras, E. M., Uauy, R., & Kopelman, P. (2015). Management of obesity: improvement of health-care training and systems for prevention and care. The Lancet, 385(9986), 2521–2533.

Hoffman, J., Frerichs, L., Story, M., Jones, J., Gaskin, K., Apple, A., … Armstrong, S. (2017). An Integrated Clinic-Community Partnership for Child Obesity Treatment: A Randomized Pilot Trial. Pediatrics, 141(1), e20171444.

Kumar, S., & Kelly, A. S. (2017). Review of Childhood Obesity. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 92(2), 251–265.

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