According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 percent of children age 2 to 19 are obese. This equates to 12.5 million American children who are at risk now and later in life for diseases and other health complications related to obesity. The organization explains since 1980, the number of obese children and adolescents in the United States has nearly tripled. Likewise, approximately 35.7 percent of American adults are considered obese.
ScienceDaily explains previous research has found when it comes to weight management programs for children, it’s important to use a family-based approach. However, a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity sought to discover how family functioning plays a role in effective obesity intervention.
“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,” said study lead author Joseph Skelton, M.D., of the Brenner Families in Training Program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “Inability to define the family makes it difficult to apply a straightforward model of family function to child health and weight management.”
Skelton and his team studied medical literature on family theories in pediatric obesity published between 1990 and 2011. They are forming their own theories on how to incorporate today’s modern families into their child obesity treatments, hoping to engage more family members in the process.
“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,” explains Skelton.
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