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Parents Are Primary Target for Pediatric Obesity Programs

Last Updated: January 16, 2012.

Parents are the primary agents of change in most family- and home-based pediatric overweight and obesity intervention programs, according to research published online Jan. 6 in Obesity Reviews.

MONDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Parents are the primary agents of change in most family- and home-based pediatric overweight and obesity intervention programs, according to research published online Jan. 6 in Obesity Reviews.

Adam P. Knowlden and Manoj Sharma, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., of the University of Cincinnati Health Promotion and Education Program, conducted a systematic review of family and home-based randomized controlled trials aimed at targeting pediatric overweight and obesity. A total of nine studies were identified, eight of which produced significant outcomes in children aged 2 to 7 years.

The investigators found that most programs targeted parents as the primary agents of change and directed educational efforts toward them. While all of the interventions incorporated home-based interventions, less than one-quarter of the programs involved home visitations. Social and behavioral education and theory were included in only three of the interventions, and process evaluation was used in only two of the intervention programs.

"Researchers implementing family and home-based interventions should focus on parents as the salient change agents. Although several studies have shown that targeting parents is effective for preventing obesity in children, recruiting parents has proved challenging for interventionists," the authors write. "Alternative methods of intervention delivery, such as online learning, should be explored."

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