Note: The information on this page is intended for informational use only. Do not use this post, or any other information on this site, to diagnose or treat any medical condition, or in lieu of professional medical advice from a certified personal physician. Always check with your doctor before undergoing any treatment or beginning any weight loss regimen.
It’s long been known that overweight and obese parents increase the risk their children face of also being overweight. In fact, according to a 2004 study, overweight parents were cited as the single factor that put children at the greatest risk of being overweight themselves. This correlation is mostly likely due to genetics and lifestyle factors.
But while much as been made over the years of the correlation between overweight parents and overweight kids, there has been less focus on a related fact: Families who participate in weight loss programs together face better rates of success than those who go it alone.
Now, thanks to an $8.8 million grant to the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at SUNY, the benefits of family weight loss might be getting more attention than ever before. SUNY’s Leonard Epstein is using the grant money to create family-centered weight loss programs that are available to the general public.
“The purpose of this grant is to implement and evaluate highly successful, family-based obesity treatment in the primary care setting, an optimal setting given the established relationship between patients and their primary care providers,” Epstein said in a statement.
Of course, you don’t need a specialized program to get your family on the path to a healthier lifestyle. All it takes is a little creativity and teamwork.
If you want to make weight loss a long-term goal for your entire family, there are plenty of healthy habits that you can all take up together, encouraging not only leaner waistlines all around, but better overall health and physical fitness as well.
If your idea of physical activity is a lonely, boring afternoon on the treadmill, then it’s easy to understand why exercise might not be the most appealing thing you can think of. But when you exercise as a family, you can incorporate team sports like basketball or flag football into your routine. Not only will this be a fun way for everyone to work up a sweat, it’s also a terrific bonding experience for kids and parents alike.
Of course, a little competition never hurt, either! Try hanging an “exercise board” in the kitchen or den. Family members can track their workouts, and the first one to reach a certain threshold will get a reward, like a week free of chores or first pick for the next family movie night. If your family includes seniors or the elderly, an in-home caregiver may be a good way to encourage activity and exercise.
In many families, everyone’ schedule is so hectic that the traditional family dinner might seem as much a relic of the past as black-and-white television. But when everyone fends for themselves for dinner, they’re more likely to rely on fast food, TV dinners, or other less-than-ideal options.
Make an effort to sit down together as a family for dinner, at least a few times per week. Try taking turns with cooking and cleaning so that no one family member’s schedule has to suffer disproportionately. Alternatively, cooking together as a family can be a great way to teach kids (and adults) about healthy recipes and good cooking practices.
Not only will this give you a chance to plan healthy, weight loss-friendly meals, but a conversation over dinner is a great opportunity to plan family activities and offer each other encouragement and support.
A common tactic when trying to cheer up a sad kid is to offer them sweets or other edible treats. Food is also a common reward for completed chores, good grades, and countless other small victories and successes. As effective as this may be, it also encourages emotional eating down the road, sending the message that food and happiness are inherently intertwined.
Instead of food, encourage or reward children with hugs, high-fives, or other non-edible treats like a trip to the park or the chance to watch their favorite movie. This isn’t to say that birthday cakes and Christmas cookies are off the table for all time, but try not to make high-calorie food a regular part of everyday life.
If you or any members of your family need a little extra help to shed extra pounds, the team at Medical Weight Loss Solutions in Connecticut can help.* Staffed by doctors and other trained medical professionals, MWLS offers specialized weight loss programs, personal training, special programs for teens, and more. Call (203)269-8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.*