Overweight children and adolescents, with the active involvement of their parents and families, can successfully lose weight.

People are not biologically inclined to have a particular food addiction so patience and support are key but so is recognizing that it won't happen unless the kids are determined to change and they get some help; parents who have always bought junk food, for example, need to stop.  And kids who may have always had an unhealthy lifestyle need to recognize that and make some changes.

A team of experts that includes physicians and psychologists propose a new model of care for treating childhood and teen obesity which includes dietary, fitness, and lifestyle changes, education, and as a final option, if needed, surgery.

Education -  best foods to eat, the importance of staying active, the health issues related to obesity.

Environmental changes - get rid of junk food, don't eat in bed, don't eat in front of the TV.

Support - in home support, like not eating junk food in front of the child, but also groups like Weight Watchers if necessary.

Medical management - your pediatrician can monitor progress but also stay on the alert for high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

Behavior therapy: short-term - professionally conducted behavior therapy allows an outside counsellor to set goals in a shorter time frame, like one month during  summer vacation.

Behavior therapy: long-term - a true 'immersion' program in a clinc for a longer period.

Bariatric surgery - gastric bypass and other bariatric surgery types.

People who are not inclined to make any changes on their own will often want to leap right to bariatric surgery; these are often the people who get no benefit from it.  For kids, this is especially a last resort because they don't have  decades of bad habits to overcome.

Essential to the success of this treatment model is the commitment and participation of family members, and especially parents, who should not only be strongly supportive of the child's efforts, but also take an active role in the nutritional, exercise, and lifestyle modifications being introduced. 

"This 7 Step Model proposed by Dr. Dan Kirschenbaum and colleagues makes it easy to understand the treatment options available for childhood obesity. This logical approach may help parents and providers choose the right treatment for the child," says James O. Hill, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Obesity Management, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, and Director of the Center for Human Nutrition and of the Colorado Clinical Nutrition Research Unit at the University of Colorado Denver.

A child rarely needs all 7 methods to achieve weight loss but families should pursue the stepwise strategy aggressively until they succeed.  

Article: Daniel Kirschenbaum, PhD, from Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL, and Wellspring, Cupertino, CA; Daniel DeUgarte, MD, Fred Frankel, PhD, and Wendy Slusser, MD, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Julie Germann, PhD, Children's Medical Center, Dallas, TX; Thomas McKnight, MD, Hulbert Field Air Force Base, Okaloosa, FL; Peter Nieman, MD, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and Richard Sandler, MD, Rush Children's Hospital&Rush University Medical School, Chicago, IL, 'Seven Steps to Success: A Handout for Parents of Overweight Children and Adolescents', Obesity Management, February 2009, DOI: 10.1089/obe.2009.0107