A "health report card" that includes a student's height, weight, and fitness level may help parents address weight problems in their children, new research suggests.
Between 1963 and 2000, the percentage of American children who were overweight nearly tripled. In an effort to promote healthy weight, school systems are beginning to collect student height and weight data, but parental involvement in obesity interventions is considered an important factor in promoting good eating and exercise behaviors, say scientists.
Four elementary schools in the Cambridge Public Schools participated in the current study by recording height and weight for 1,131 students. The students' parents were either given a health report card specific for their child, general info about diet and exercise, or no information.
Researchers from the Institute for Community Health in Cambridge then surveyed 399 parents regarding awareness and concern for their child's weight, plans for weight control, and measures to prevent further weight gain. Among parents of overweight children, those in the report card group were more likely than others to report initiating or intending to initiate activities designed to help their child lose weight.
However, there was no difference between the parent groups in enacting measures to control time spent in front of a television, increasing physical activity and serving five or more portions per day of fruits and vegetables.
The researchers are also concerned that 20% of overweight children in the intervention group planned to put their child on a diet, in spite of anti-diet information that was provided. Restrictive dieting is not the best strategy for overweight children," Hacker explained. She and her association "prefer that children increase their physical activity and change their nutritional habits.
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