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Self-Help Programs May Be an Effective Option for Overweight Kids

UCSD study involved 50 overweight or obese children between ages 8 and 12 and family members.

By Kenny Goldberg, KPBS

Clinic-based treatment programs can help children lose weight, but they're not easily accessible. A new study from UC San Diego suggests a self-help program may be a viable option for overweight kids.

The study involved 50 overweight or obese children between the ages of 8 and 12 and their family members.

Parents and kids were given a manual, and asked to read a chapter a week and to apply the skills at home. Every two weeks, they weighed-in at a clinic, and a had a brief discussion with a health provider.

After the five-month program, kids lost an average of five pounds. Six months later, they hadn't gained the weight back.

UC San Diego's Dr. Keri Boutelle, who led the study, said the self-help method relies on some principals of behavior therapy.

"Behavior therapy is a way of kind of setting up your environment, and setting up rewards and systems, to make yourself more successful," she explained.

Boutelle said her study suggests a self-help program with minimal supervision may be just as effective as clinic-based weight loss programs.

Her research is published in the April 1 edition of the journal Pediatrics

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