Young Mentors Boost Kids’ Weight Loss
For most adults, getting a workout buddy is basic. The benefits of having someone to push you, entertain you and sweat with you are so fundamental that many people have a close friend or family member with them from the onset of their medical weight loss program.
For kids, weight loss is a bit different. In Fayetteville and DeWitt you don’t hear kids talking about their weight loss goals over lunch. Kids are subject to bullying and taunting. While some kids are lucky enough to have a close friend who will help them through this rough time, most are lacking this essential form of support.
The ongoing love and support of a parent only goes so far. Just as adults benefit from heading to the gym with a peer, children learn and grow with one another. Kids are likely to achieve the best health improvements when working together with another adolescent. Specifically, a younger kid benefits a lot from the support of a teen mentor.
Studying Support for Kids’ Weight Loss
Researchers from The Ohio State University conducted an eight-week clinical trial with children in Appalachian elementary schools. During the course of the study, focus was placed on lifestyle intervention and nutritional education. Kids participated in a one hour after school program each week that focused on improving their health in a variety of ways.
The kids were not forced to follow the directions given to them during the program. Instead, the program provided children with insight into their nutrition habits, and how the diet and exercise choices they make can directly impact their health.
In the study, kids were split into two groups. One group of kids was sent to the cafeteria with teen mentors who worked with them one-on-one. Other kids were sent back into their classrooms to receive identical instruction from their teachers and other administrators. The programs were identical. The benefits the two groups of children received during the program, however, were not.
Kids who were partnered with teen mentors experienced greater health benefits. After eight weeks, the kids in this group lost weight, had improved blood pressure and adopted healthier habits in their day-to-day lives. Children who received instruction from an adult showed no change.
Children need adult supervision and support, especially when they are doing something as important as losing weight. However, kids also rely on the support of their peers to make decisions, and can look at those slightly older than themselves as role models.
There are plenty of ways to team your child up with a teen mentor. Older brothers and sisters are great resources, but they are just the start. Talk to your child’s school about volunteer mentors from the high school. Finding more sources of support and motivation can help your child accept the healthy changes you are encouraging.