Position of the American Dietetic Association: individual-, family-, school-, and community-based interventions for pediatric overweight

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Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2006, 106 (6): 925-45
The American Dietetic Association (ADA), recognizing that overweight is a significant problem for children and adolescents in the United States, takes the position that pediatric overweight intervention requires a combination of family-based and school-based multi-component programs that include the promotion of physical activity, parent training/modeling, behavioral counseling, and nutrition education. Furthermore, although not yet evidence-based, community-based and environmental interventions are recommended as among the most feasible ways to support healthful lifestyles for the greatest numbers of children and their families. ADA supports the commitment of resources for programs, policy development, and research for the efficacious promotion of healthful eating habits and increased physical activity in all children and adolescents, regardless of weight status. This is the first position paper of ADA to be based on a rigorous systematic evidence-based analysis of the pediatric overweight literature on intervention programs. The research showed positive effects of two specific kinds of overweight interventions: a) multicomponent, family-based programs for children between the ages of 5 and 12 years, and b) multicomponent, school-based programs for adolescents. Multicomponent programs include behavioral counseling, promotion of physical activity, parent training/modeling, dietary counseling, and nutrition education. Analysis of the literature to date points to the need for further investigation of promising strategies not yet adequately evaluated. Furthermore, this review highlights the need for research to develop effective and innovative overweight prevention programs for various sectors of the population, including those of varying ethnicities, young children, and adolescents. To support and enhance the efficacy of family- and school-based weight interventions, community-wide interventions should be undertaken; few such interventions have been conducted and even fewer evaluated.

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