Early Childhood Intervention Yields Better Results

October 31, 2012 — Children at risk for obesity are more successful in achieving healthy weights when interventions begin early, two European studies suggested. There is mounting evidence that paying attention to children as young as age 3 may be a promising way to stem the global obesity epidemic, according to Dr. Elsie Taveras and Jennifer A. Woo Baidal, MD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston. Drs. Baidal and Traveras commented in an editorial that accompanied two new studies that indicate weight-loss programs can help even very young children slim down. It appears from the studies’ results that acting early may improve the odds of success.

"What [the studies] are showing is a pretty consistent trend that if we were to intervene early, we could really have an effect on changing the trajectory of weight gain in children," said Dr. Taveras. In one study, Dutch scientists found that heavy three- to five-year-olds saw continued benefits from a weight-loss intervention for at least several months after it ended. In the second study from Sweden, the results found that  children under 10 with excess weight or obesity were much more likely to slow their weight gain than were adolescents getting similar behavioral treatments.

Excessive pounds in childhood often stay on into adulthood, and have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.There is mounting evidence that paying attention to young kids may be a promising way to stem the global obesity epidemic. In 2008, more than a third of U.S. youths have excess weight or obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The two studies were released this Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Read the Dutch study led by Dr. Gianni Bocca here, and read the Swedish study bled by Pernilla Danielsson of Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm by clicking here. A summary article about the two studies on Medpage Today can be reviewed by clicking here.