If you have a young person in your life with a weight problem… acknowledged or not… this latest study is going to give you a unique way to encourage healthy habits. Reading.
Obesity researchers at Duke University found that reading (the last activity that you’d expect) spurs weight loss in teen girls.
The researchers looked at 31 obese girls, between the ages of 9 and 13 who were enrolled in the Healthy Lifestyles Program at Duke Children’s Hospital.
The average body mass index (BMI) of the young subjects in the study was 27 to 28. Girls of this age usually have a BMI of between 16 and 19.
The program, now in its second successful year, works to address patients’ medical, dietary and behavioral needs.
Treatment includes an extensive initial evaluation, an intensive lifestyle intervention phase that lasts six months and a maintenance phase that remains in place until adulthood.
As part of their program, some of the girls read a novel titled Lake Rescue, where the heroine is an overweight girl struggling with low self esteem, isolation and teasing. Another group of obese girls read a different novel, and a smaller group didn’t read at all.
Here’s the strange thing… all the girls who read books lost weight, but the ones who read the book with the overweight theme lost significantly more.
The Lake Rescue readers lowered their body mass by .71, compared to .33 for the other group of readers. The girls who did not read saw an increase of .05 in BMI.
The idea behind the approach was to find something to motivate the teens, without being strict and authoritative.
The book was the perfect choice as it presents a likeable character who works through her issues and learns to make healthier choices. And since there aren’t many choices to help young teens loose weight, reading is a unique approach that can be helpful on many levels.
All of us need to be aware of the epidemic proportions of childhood obesity in our country.
Truth is, this didn’t start overnight, it has roots as far back as the 1960s. Fast food and gargantuan portion sizes continue to play their part. As do the TV and computer, keeping kids sitting so much of the time.
Throw in some fear for their safety, and working parents who don’t have the flexibility to take kids to sporting activities and you can see how we got here.
No one person is to blame, and no one person on their own can change things.
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Another Good Reason To Get Teen Girls To Read continued… But here’s what you can do.Consider the results of the research as you try to reach that young person you know could use help. Choose a novel with care… something well written where the main character learns to make good choices and triumphs in the end.
A choice for boys might appeal to their taste, yet still convey a message that an out of shape hero can make changes, be happy and maybe even get the girl.
It would also be wise to keep in mind the researchers intent — no pressure, no force, just exposure to a good message at the right time.