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Family counselling improves diet and physical activity in kids

Posted:  Monday, March 14, 2016

Counselling improves diet and physical activity in kids! The current generation of children are fixated with junk food, television, and computer games. A recent study from Finland finds that individualised and family-based lifestyle counselling may help children to improve their dietary habits and increase their physical activity.

The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, involved over 500 children aged 6-8 years and their families. During the course of the study, both the children and their families participated in lifestyle counselling sessions, which suggested practical ways to improve physical activity and diet quality in each family.

Children in the intervention group were also allowed to participate in exercise clubs organised by the study. The researchers assessed the children's diet quality, physical activity, and screen-based sedentary behaviour at baseline and at two-year follow-up.

The study found that children from families who received lifestyle counselling showed increased leisure-time physical activity and reduced screen-based sedentary behaviour compared to the control group. They also showed increased consumption of vegetables, low-fat milk, and vegetable oil-based spreads. Consequently, their intake of fibre, vitamin C, and vitamin E grew.

Professor Timo Lakka, the Principal Investigator, explained, "Parents have a major impact on their children's health behaviour. Individualised lifestyle counselling involving parents could be part of the child health care system. Reducing the risk of many non-communicable diseases by improved lifestyle habits could also reduce health care costs."

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