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Guided Self-Help for Childhood Obesity

When doctors and parents team up, kids reap the benefits.

Young girl to represent childhood obesity program

One in five children in America is obese. A new program, tested in a randomized clinical trial by researchers from University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, led to significant reductions in childhood obesity in a primarily Latino community with a prevalence of 38% childhood obesity.

The 6-month program consists of 14 (20-minute) visits with parents at the child’s primary care clinic, practice materials to use between sessions, and individual meetings with a health coach to review progress and troubleshoot strategies.

“The success of the Guided Self-Help program is really promising for both patients and physicians,” said lead study author Kyung E. Rhee, MD, professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “It’s always rewarding to hear that families were so appreciative of our help, but we were also surprised by how grateful the physicians were to have this program available in their office. These can be difficult conversations for them to initiate during standard checkups, but knowing they had a clear and effective way to provide care was really empowering for them.” These types of integrative healthy-lifestyle programs may grow in the future, providing opportunities for fitness professionals who are also trained in health coaching.

The study is published in Pediatrics (2022; 150 [1]).

See also: Childhood Obesity Stats Remain Grim


Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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