Childhood Obesity - Do you have an overweight child? We offer tips to help your child lose weight and get fit!

The My Overweight Child blog will help you keep informed about the latest research, findings, and resources available to parents of overweight or obese kids. There are many knowledgeable people working on the increasingly dire problem of childhood obesity - and we want to give parents a place where they can check in regularly to see the latest studies and tips available to help you help your child lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

We invite you to add your comments - if you have feedback for the blog, would like some specific topics covered, or you just want to share your experience as a parent dealing with childhood obesity.

Family Involvement Key to Kids' Weight Loss Efforts

A study from the Netherlands found that family involvement is a key factor in helping overweight teens and children lose weight.


Hiltje O. Luttikhuis of the University Medical Center in Groningen, the Netherlands, studied whether changes in lifestyle, family involvement, surgery, or drugs were effective in helping young people lose weight.

Family lifestyle interventions that included behavioral therapy and changes in diet and exercise worked better than self-help programs. Teens and children on drug therapy suffered some adverse effects.

"While there is limited quality data to recommend one treatment program over another, this review shows that combined behavioral lifestyle interventions compared to standard care or self-help can produce a significant and clinically meaningful reduction in overweight in children and adolescents," the study's authors wrote in the journal Cochrane Review.

Labels: weight_loss, families, involvement

Posted By: My Overweight Child 3 Comments

College Student Mentors Help Kids Stay Slim

Having college students become mentors for inner-city middle school students helps the younger children develop healthier lifestyles, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

  • Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine paired 235 African American children.
  • The children, ages 11 through 16, were from low-income communities.
  • The mentors were African-American college students or recent college graduates.
  • The mentors talked to the children about food, took them to restaurants and food stores, and showed them how to remain physically active by hiking, skating and other sports.

By the end of this study, the rate of overweight and obesity among the younger children declined from 38% to 33%.

"We tried to normalize being healthy and taking care of yourself," said author Dr. Maureen Black. "We wanted to make it normal to be healthy and fit."

Labels: childhood_obesity, prevention, childhood_health, mentors

Posted By: Aspen/CRC 1 Comment

Retired Officers Say Childhood Obesity Threatens National Security

According to a controversial report from a group of retired military officers, childhood obesity is a threat to national security because it is so hard to find young people sufficiently fit to serve in the military.

The group calls itself "Mission: Readiness."

"When over a quarter of young adults are too fat to fight, we need to take notice," said retired Navy Rear Adm. James Barnett Jr.

Barnett and others in the group said that the government has to spend tens of millions of dollars a year to train replacements discharged because they are overweight. It is also harder to find recruits since nine million young adults, or almost one in three of those ages 17 and 24 years old, do not meet weight standards for military service.

Mission: Readiness is asking Congress to improve school lunch programs by eliminating junk food and sugary sodas, and by spending more money to serve healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.

"This is the future of the Army we are talking about when we look at the 17 to 24-year-olds," said U.S. Army Recruiting Command Officer Mark Howell. "The sad thing is a lot of them want to join but cannot."

Labels: obese teens

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 1 Comment

More than 'Just' Hunger: The Agony of Food Addiction

Aaron (not his real name) spent years fighting urges to eat almost continuously. Food was the answer to everything: stress, sorrow, depression and even joy. In his attempt to control himself, he would keep his cabinets free of food. But he would just end up going to a friend’s house to eat.

“A growing number of obesity experts would argue that Aaron had a food addiction, that he had become hooked on the ‘high’ he got from certain foods, especially those loaded in sugar and fat, and that the ‘pleasure centre’ in his brain had been hijacked.” [Source: CTV News]

Assistant psychiatry professor Dr. Valerie Taylor admits that the idea of “food addiction” is still not widely accepted by the medical community. But new studies are adding to the growing collection of evidence affirming food addiction as a real medical condition. Taylor hopes that acknowledgement of the condition will help doctors better treat obese patients who may have food addictions.


Labels: overeating

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 1 Comment

Blue Cross/Blue Shield Helping Doctors Treat Childhood Obesity

Blue Cross and Blue Shield  has developed a program to help doctors in their efforts to treat childhood obesity.  The program was first tested in North Carolina, where one-third of all children are obese or overweight.

The Pediatric Obesity and Diabetes Prevention Pilot Program will be active in ffive states in an effort to help reduce childhood obesity and prevent future cases of diabetes.

The following is from a press release announcing the program:

The toolkit materials display healthy messages from The Good Health Club, a group of animal characters.  The Good Health Club encourages kids to:

  • Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day
  • Limit screen time to 2 hours or less
  • Get at least 1 hour of physical activity
  • Limit sweetened drinks to 0

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.  Obese children or teens are at risk for health problems like heart disease and diabetes – the two leading causes of death in the United States.  The prevalence of obesity among children ages 6 to 11 has more than doubled in the past 20 years from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 17 percent in 2006.1


Labels: health, doctors

Posted By: My Overweight Child 2 Comments

Perception of Popularity Affects Weight Gain

Researchers at Harvard University recently completed a study in which they measured the relationship between a girl's weight gain and her perception of her popularity. They found a surprising connection.

"...all of the girls had gained weight - no surprise, since they were all growing. But teens who had rated themselves at four or lower had gained more. In fact, girls who thought they were low in the social pecking order were at a 70 percent higher risk of gaining excess weight. The extra weight averaged about 11 pounds, or a two-point increase in BMI scores."

The study appears to indicate that educating young people about healthy living and the dangers of obesity can be undermined by "social variables" at school. They suggested that parents encourage their kids' participation in group activities and development of a healthy social network.

Labels: social_networks, girls, popularity

Posted By: My Overweight Child 1 Comment

Childhood Diabetes Increases Risk for Kidney Problems

Children and teens that are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are five times more likely to develop kidney disease than people who develop diabetes as adults. The risk of kidney disease is equated, not with age, but with how long someone has had Type 2 diabetes.

"Citing an example [Robert Nelson] explained, 'A 15-year-old person with 10 years of type 2 diabetes has the same risk of kidney disease as a 55-year-old with 10 years of type 2 diabetes.'"

Diabetes is becoming increasingly common among young people as obesity rates rise. While kidney disease can be prevent through proper management of diabetes, Mr. Nelson also emphasized the importance of reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity.

Labels: diabetes, obesity_rates, kidney_disease

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 1 Comment

Dining Hall in Dorm Raises Risk of Weight Gain

College students residing in dormitories that have dining halls gain more weight than those who walk to their cafeterias, according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Researchers at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan found that female students living in dorms with dining halls weighed two pounds more and exercised 1.43 fewer times a week than those in dormitories that had no dining halls.

Male students consumed 1.5 more meals and three more snacks a week than their counterparts living in dormitories without dining halls.

Labels: students, college

Posted By: Jane St. Clair 1 Comment

Obese Parents More Likely to Have Obese Children

If both parents are obese, a child has 12 times the risk of being obese compared to a child of two normal weight parents, according to a new study from the United Kingdom.

  • Researchers from the University College London used data on 4432 families, who took part in an annual national health survey between 2001 and 2006.
  • Fourteen percent of children who had one obese parent were also obese.
  • The risk was slightly higher if the mother was the parent who was overweight.
  • Only 2% of the children of parents who were both normal-weight suffered from obesity, compared to 22% of children whose parents were both obese.
  • Among families in which both parents were severely obese, 35% of the children were too.

This study appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Labels: parenting, genetics

Posted By: Jane St. Clair 1 Comment

Kids Need to Unplug, Get Up, Get Out(side)

When we were kids, we played hopscotch, hide-and-seek and kick-the-can. Today, kids play Wii, X-Box and PlayStation; and they do it all inside.

“The average American child age 8 – 18 spends more than 7 hours daily in front of screens – television, video games and cell phones, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study…The World Wildlife Federation suggests pitching a tent just steps from your door as part of the sixth annual Great American Backyard Campout June 26.” [Source: The Oregonian]

Getting kids away from their electronics and back outside doesn’t have to include a trip to a state park, or a long camping trip somewhere far away. A simple walk around the block can suffice.

Use the time to explore nature as it exists in your backyard and your neighborhood. Try to identify the trees, birds and insects that you see along the way. Help your kids begin to appreciate the real world as much as they do their “cyberworlds.”


Labels: exercise, nature

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 1 Comment