Providing families of children with excess weight and obesity with regular low-intensity support can make small but significant difference to body weight and lifestyle behaviours over 2 years, a recent study reports.
The researchers randomized 206 children aged 4-8 years with excess weight and obesity to receive either usual care or a tailored program of low-intensity care. At baseline, usual care families underwent a 30 to 45 minute appointment where they received individualized feedback and general advice on healthy lifestyles. After 6 months, another appointment reviewed progress and provided support, but did not provide new information or resources. Total contact time over the 2 years was 45 to 75 minutes.
Tailored care families, on the other hand, met once with a multidisciplinary team for 1 or 2 hours to develop specific goals for each family and then met briefly once a month with a mentor for 12 months. In the second year of the study, frequency of contact was purposely reduced in order to assess how families managed by themselves and included further refinement of target behaviors. Total contact time for tailored care families over the 2 years was 6 to 7 hours.
After 2 years, the researchers found that not only did children in the tailored care families have lower BMI, BMI z score, and waist circumference, they also consumed more fruits and vegetables, fewer junk foods, and were more physically active than children in the usual care families.