Sunday, November 20, 2011

Parents' Weight Loss: A Weapon in Childhood Obesity

We’ve all heard that the physical environment we live in greatly effects our lifestyle, and that environment plays a significant role in the worldwide obesity and overweight problem. Indeed, we are influenced by what we are exposed to. For example, if we are consistently surrounded by unhealthy food, we will eventually eat the food. Likewise, if those around us are overweight or obese, we will more easily accept our overweight or obese state, and do little about it. However, if our environment is filled with healthy food and healthy weight people, we might just eat more healthy food and seek a healthy weight.

In fact, a study has shown that when one person in a family loses weight, others in the family may be enticed to follow suit. Further, the study researchers suggest that if parents in the home engage in physical activity and eat healthy diets, these actions could influence the children in the household, providing a weapon in the fight against childhood obesity.

The study was done by a group from the Stanford University School of Medicine. The researchers concluded that "performing a gastric bypass operation on one patient has a halo of positive effect on the weight, eating habits, activity level, and health behaviors of the entire family.”

Further, the researchers suggest that the childhood obesity rate in families where the mother has had gastric bypass surgery is 52% lower than for "the same mothers before the surgery." The study demonstrates that one person’s weight loss -- at least weight loss resulting from gastric bypass surgery -- has an effect on other members of the family. And the effect no doubt extends to weight loss resulting from other weight loss methods, since all weight loss methods require lifestyle changes. And it’s the lifestyle changes that the family member sees on an ongoing basis.

Therefore, getting parents to make healthy lifestyle changes may be an approach to getting children to make healthy lifestyle changes. And if the parents' lifestyle changes lead to weight loss, the children’s lifestyle changes will likely lead to weight loss and healthy weight control.

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