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A Closer Look at a Weight Loss Study for Children

UCSD is conducting a study called “FRESH,” which is tackling childhood obesity by educating the parents and the child. Could this be the answer?

You can hardly make it through a TV program without some advertisement about an adult weight loss program guaranteeing a slimmer body shape and a new look. How many TV commercials do you see for weight loss programs for children? We know that childhood obesity is growing at an insurmountable rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. Specifically, obese children between the ages of 6-11 went from 7 percent in 1980 to almost 20 percent in 2008. I had to ask myself this question, “If there is a lot of help for adults, where is the help for the children?”

I was able to connect with Dr. Kerri Boutelle, associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at UC San Diego. Dr. Boutelle is an expert in childhood obesity and is currently working on a study that is examining an intervention for childhood obesity that is both cost-effective and behaviorally successful.

The study is called , which stands for family, responsibility,
education, support and health. Dr. Boutelle explains that it is important to
work with children and their parents because behavior is modeled. If there is healthy eating in the home, then the children are going to be positively affected.

The FRESH study will examine two groups. One treatment group will include one parent plus the child and the second treatment group will be parent-only participation. The study hypothesizes that it will be more cost-effective to have a parent-only intervention, but that the overweight child or children will be able to lose weight equal to those who are in the parent plus child treatment group due to the education received by the parent involved in the study.

Along with parent involvement and education, it’s also important to develop the skills necessary to self-monitor your food intake and understand what types of food to eat. FRESH teaches its participants an easy to comprehend “traffic light” monitoring system.

  • Green light includes food that has 0-1 grams of fat/serving, <10 percent sugar.
  • Yellow light includes food that has 2-5 grams of fat/serving, 10-25 percent sugar.
  • Red light includes food that has >5 grams of fat/serving or >25 percent sugar.

Obviously, foods that fall into the “green light” category are the healthiest types of food to eat and foods in the “red light” category should be  consumed in much smaller quantities, with “yellow light” foods somewhere in the middle. By self-monitory and keeping track of daily calories, the participants in this study will learn how to eat a balanced diet and seek out foods with less fat and fewer calories. In addition, participants will learn about physical activity and work on changing sedentary habits.

Currently, the FRESH research group is looking for a total of 150 subjects to take part in the study. The children need to be between the age of 8 and 12 and must have one parent willing to participate. The study is free and on a volunteer basis so you are free to leave the study at any time. If you have a child who is overweight or obese, take action today.

For more information about this study, please call 858-822-2158 for the “FRESH study” or email kidsweight@ucsd.edu.

againstthegrain April 03, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Why is it "obvious" that foods labeled with a green light are better choices than foods labeled with a yellow or red light? Haven't we moved past the the failed fat-free and low-fat experiments already? Fat content doesn't necessarily correlate to a food's healthfulness at all. Does the term Snackwell Syndrome ring a bell? Children need good sources of nutrients and energy from a variety of nutrient dense foods if they are to grow well-developed bodies, and that includes good sources of natural fat, which also carry critical fat-soluble vitamins (but not novel fats that are transformed in factories into trans fats or seed oils that can only be extracted with chemical solvents and highly industrial processes - these are poor building materials and energy). Natural dietary fats & oils are not only efficient sources of energy, but are also a critical building material for the body (esp within the nervous system, but also for all cell membranes and hormones). Dietary proteins also provide structural materials for the body, and under some circumstances can be a source of energy. Dietary carbohydrates on the other hand, are simply a source of energy (the body can make synthesize some specific structural carbohydrates, but the raw materials do not have to be provided by dietary carbohydrates. If excess dietary carbohydrates are consumed, they are stored as fat, because continual circulation of excess carbohydrates is toxic to vulnerable proteins and cells (glucotoxicity).
Dave April 03, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I've read some interesting data about obesity in industrial nations being related to the introduction of high fructose corn syrup to the diet. Worth reading up on...
LemonGroove April 06, 2012 at 07:35 AM
Please! corn syrup in not evil unless you are drinking gallons of sugar sweetened drinks to wash your cheetos down with. Everyone get over all that crud. It's simple, we, the parents are responsible for our children's health. Take responsibility! Fill 1/2 your kid's plate with vegetables, 1/4 protein (no more than they size of their palm), 1/4 of starch (hopefully whole grain) and run them. Let them play outside! I know it's easier and "safer" to keep them inside on their video games and computers, but OUR CHILDRENS GENERATION WILL BE THE FIRST GENERATION NOT EXPECTED TO LIVE AS LONG AS OUR OWN GENERATION! Kids at 8 and 9 should not have Diabetes, obesity or fatty livers. They should not need new livers by the age of 21. Stop the soda, juice, smoothies, and whole milk. Do have them drink lots of water and 1% or fat free milk. Guess what, if they are hungry, they will eat. What are you feeding your kids? How lazy has our generation become at our children's expense? "Sugar free" drinks have not been proven safe for young children or their reproductive organs, so limit that too. Come on! We know you love your kids, now show them! Actions are louder than words.

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