PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There has been a huge push to crackdown on the childhood obesity epidemic in this country.

However, doctors now say it’s not just up to the kids.

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Parents lead by example and that is what is needed to help kids with obesity.

“It starts with the parents, then trickles down to the family,” St. Clair Hospital Dietician Anne Berzinsky said. “I think in a lot of situations it isn’t happening.”

In its journal circulation, the American Heart Association is making a new scientific statement about what works.

It’s based on research about treatment program outcomes where parents and caregivers are highly involved.

What seems to be effective includes:

  • Identifying specific behaviors that need to change,
  • Goal setting – for example, only two hours of screen time a day,
  • Removing high calorie temptations from the home and replacing them with fruit,
  • Avoiding using food in rewards and punishments.
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Progress should be tracked and praised, as well.

These treatment programs are often staffed by a team of doctors, dieticians, and psychologists, typically in a university or hospital clinic setting. This may not be available everywhere.

“The parents attend, the siblings attend, and even grandparents even sometimes attend,” Berzinsky said.

They learn about healthy meals and choices, staying active and self-esteem.

If you don’t have a program like this near you, you can try taking small steps on your own at home, or see if your school has anything to offer.


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