Cooking Together

Can Kids Help Grownups Eat Better?

It might be that kids help grownups eat better, according to a new observational study just published in Obesity. This particular study (by Winston et al) looks at the relationship between helpful or unhelpful friends and family, and weight outcomes in a population of mostly female Black and Hispanic adults.

On average, people lost about 11 pounds after 12 months. But the most significant predictor of having better outcomes was help with eating goals from a child. Having that help was associated with roughly five pounds more weight loss. A bigger social network was helpful as well. Having a helpful co-worker in one’s social network also predicted better outcomes, but not as reliably. On the downside, living with someone who has obesity predicted less weight loss, as did having people in one’s social network sabotaging the effort (duh).

This research complements other research on the influence of social networks in obesity. For example, another recent study (by Leahey et al) finds that obesity in social networks and social norms are associated with obesity treatment outcomes in a study of behavioral support.

Of course, these are observational studies. Further research is needed to test the benefit of engaging people in social networks to enhance outcomes.

But the notion that children might support — as well as benefit from — participating in healthy behavior changes is well worth further attention.

Addressing obesity in the present generation in tightly linked to preventing it in the next.

Click here to read the study by Winston et al and click here for the study by Leahey et al.

Cooking Together, photograph © yoshiyasu nishikawa / flickr

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July 19, 2015