Study reveals that early treatment of child obesity is beneficial


In the short and long terms, early treatment of pediatric obesity is successful, according to a recent study that was written up in The International Journal of Obesity.
Swedish researchers from the Karolinska Institutet conducted the investigation.The researchers kept track of more than 170 young kids who had been given an obese diagnosis. The children were recruited for the randomised controlled study while they were between the ages of four and six, using children’s clinics in the Region of Stockholm.
Three treatment options were offered to the kids and their parents: normal treatment, parental support group, or parental support group with follow-up telephone assistance.
The children and parents in the standard treatment group had meetings focusing on diet and exercise with a doctor, paediatrician and/or dietician. The two parental support groups did not involve the children and focused on how the parents could promote healthy lifestyles in the family in a positive way and without conflict.
“Such conversations can centre on how to set boundaries, how to teach children new behaviours and how to communicate with preschools, grandmothers, neighbours and other adults in the children’s world,” says principal investigator Paulina Nowicka, Associate Professor in Pediatric Science at the Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet, and professor of  Food studies, nutrition and dietetics at Uppsala University.
After attending the parental support groups, half of the participants were then randomly assigned a follow-up phone call.While obesity is difficult to treat, she explains, the study shows that intensive treatment is safe and efficacious for pre-school children, “Treating children at that age is much more effective than if you start treating them in their teens,” she says. “Some adolescents are looking at possible bariatric surgery and we hope that this can be avoided with earlier treatment.”
The study was a collaboration among researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Uppsala University,  Warwick Medical School and Oxford University. It was financed by the Centrum for Innovative Medicine (CIMED) and the Masonic Home for Children in Stockholm Foundation.