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A novel weight-loss strategy for children

Thursday, December 04, 2008 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD
Although yesterday Travis described that obesity prevalence in adolescents and children in the U.S. have not increased significantly since 1999, despite much effort on behalf of various organizations, parents, and health care professionals – the numbers have not declined either.

Additionally, if the argument that US youth have reached their genetic ceiling for obesity explains the above plateau, then Canada still has some catching up to do, as our obesity prevalence tend to lag behind that our neighbours.

Thus, novel methods for helping reduce obesity among children should maintain high priority among health care professionals. Another of Time magazine's top medical stories of 2008 suggests one such novel method: reading.

The study in question was conducted at Duke University, the results of which were presented at the recent Obesity Society meeting in Phoenix (a meeting both Travis and I attended but unfortunately missed said presentation). In their study, researchers assigned 64 obese girls ages 9 to 13 to read either a book featuring an overweight protagonist who learns to make healthier lifestyle choices, a book that did not feature an overweight protagonist, or no book at all – in addition to all girls being part of the “Healthy Lifestyles Program” at Duke Children's Hospital. Interestingly, at the end of the 6 month intervention, the girls who read the story containing the overweight heroine lost more weight than the girls in the other 2 groups.

Thus, while parents and health professionals alike generally prescribe an active lifestyle for the reduction of obesity in youth, here is an example of a fairly ‘inactive’ activity which may improve the success of various weight-loss strategies.

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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.

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The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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