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Dr Fatima Cody Stanford Emphasizes Role of Family in Treating Childhood Obesity

Children need support from their families to fight obesity, as they lack the tools to change their diet and exercise patterns alone, according to Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FTOS, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Getting obesity under control in childhood is key to reducing the risk of negative health outcomes later in life.


Children need support from their families to fight obesity, as they lack the tools to change their diet and exercise patterns alone, according to Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FTOS, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Getting obesity under control in childhood is key to reducing the risk of negative health outcomes later in life.

Transcript (slightly modified)

Are there differences in the obesity-related risks for children and for adults?

I would say that when people begin to struggle with weight in childhood or adolescence, obviously the lifetime span over which they would have issues with obesity makes them predisposed to more serious conditions in adulthood. So if we can tackle obesity in the pediatric population before they become adults, then we have a likelihood of improving their health outcomes overall and improving their quality and duration of their life.

I think that when we’re looking at pediatricians or family medicine physicians that are specifically looking at the pediatric population, let’s not just let them go from visit to visit without addressing the issue. Not just telling the patient, “You have a weight issue,” giving them tools that can actually help them address the issue, helping them come in on a regular basis to make sure they’re meeting targets and/or goals, but supporting the effort surrounding the family, because the family is going to be really important when we’re looking at the pediatric population with obesity. 

You can’t just tell a 6-year-old to go lose weight, because they have no purchasing power over what they’re eating. They have no access to specifically a healthy, safe environment that would allow them be physically active. They don’t know that they’re supposed to sleep for at least 8 to 9 hours. So they’re going to need tools from their family, and often using a family-based therapy or family modality of therapy is likely to be most beneficial in treating obesity within that population. 

 
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