University of Minnesota
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
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Minnesota Obesity Center

2006 Grant Award - Kerri N. Boutelle, Ph.D.

Parents as the Agent of Change for Childhood Obesity

Kerri N. Boutelle, Ph.D.
Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota

The prevalence of obesity continues to rise, and the striking increases in childhood obesity over the past several decades are particularly alarming. Recent data suggest that 31% of children are at risk for overweight, or overweight, and these children are at a risk for persistent adult obesity and negative health and psychosocial consequences in childhood and in adulthood. Research shows that 10 years after follow-up, approximately 1/3 of children who participated in family based obesity treatment had a decrease in percentage overweight, which is more successful than weight management treatment in adults. However, 2/3 of the children treated in weight management programs continue to struggle with their weight, thus further research on improving childhood obesity treatment programs is badly needed.

Parents play a major role in the development and maintenance of obesity in children, and logically should be considered the agent of change for the treatment of childhood obesity. One potential opportunity for improving childhood obesity treatment is to intervene with the parents, without child involvement. Parent-only interventions are potentially promising for a number of reasons, including developmental appropriateness for the child, promising but underpowered data, improved generalizability for public health prevention efforts and treatments, decreased risk of dieting for the child, and decreased treatment costs.

Thus, the primary aim of this application is to evaluate the efficacy of a parent-only treatment for childhood obesity, and compare the parent-only treatment to the current gold standard treatment of parent + child. The central hypothesis is that the parent-only treatment will result in greater weight loss for the child as compared to the parent+ child treatment. The secondary aim is to compare treatment groups on the child and parent diet and exercise behavior, parent weight.

Aims will be achieved through a randomized clinical trial in which 48 overweight 8-12 year old children and at least one of their parents will be randomly assigned by the gender of the child to one of two conditions;

  1. parent-only intervention, or

  2. parent + child intervention.

Both treatment arms will provide state of the art behavioral treatment for childhood obesity for 6 months, and participants will be followed for 6-months post-treatment. Assessments include baseline, immediately post-treatment, and 6-months post-treatment.

Results of these studies will be utilized to frame the objectives of a fully-powered R01 application. This program of research is critical for exploring and developing interventions mobilizing parents to treat and prevent childhood obesity. The timing of this research is optimal given the increase in childhood obesity in the United States, and the need for intervention and prevention programs.

2006 Awards:

ZEB1 and the Development of Obesity

Oxyntomodulin and the Regulation of Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

Hypothalamic Acyl-CoA Metabolism and Food Intake Regulation

Parents as the Agent of Change for Childhood Obesity

Identifying Novel Roles of Lipocalin 2 in Insulin Action and Glucose Metabolism

GIRK$: A New Obesity Gene?

Recipients of:

2010 Grant Awards
2008 Grant Awards
2006 Grant Awards
2004 Grant Awards
2003 Grant Awards
2002 Grant Awards
2001 Grant Awards
2000 Grant Awards
1999 Grant Awards
1998 Grant Awards
1997 Grant Awards
1996 Grant Awards
1995 Grant Awards