Counselling for kids proves effective in promoting healthy eating

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Children from families who participated in lifestyle counselling ate more vegetables and had a higher intake of important nutrients. (© iStock.com)
Children from families who participated in lifestyle counselling ate more vegetables and had a higher intake of important nutrients. (© iStock.com)

Related tags: Obesity, Nutrition

Children from families who participated in lifestyle counselling ate more vegetables and had a higher intake of important nutrients, a two-year follow-up study has shown.

Results from the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study, have given researchers insight into how this type of counselling could be used in the prevention of overweight, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in later life.

Lifestyle changes, such as improving diet, have been promoted especially during childhood as an effective strategy in the prevention of obesity​, type 2 diabetes​ and cardiovascular diseases​.

These insights could also prove invaluable in reducing the risk of many non-communicable diseases by improved lifestyle habits, which could also contribute in reducing health care costs.

During the two-year follow-up, the families in the intervention group participated in six dietary counselling sessions which aimed to find suitable and practical ways to improve diet quality in each family.

Children in the intervention group could also participate in exercise clubs organised by the study. The children's diet quality was then assessed at baseline and at two-year follow-up.

The results of the study found that children from families who received lifestyle counselling increased the consumption of vegetables, low-fat milk and vegetable oil-based spreads. The health-promoting changes in diet quality also increased the intake of fibre and vitamins C and E.

"Children from families who participated in lifestyle counselling were physically more active, ate more vegetables and vegetable-oil-based spreads and had a higher intake of important nutrients than children in the control group,"​ said Dr Anna Viitasalo, from the University of Eastern Finland.

The increased consumption of vegetables in the intervention group is in line with the findings of some other previous family-based diet intervention studies​.​  The researchers believed that interventions that increase parental involvement were effective in increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables among children.

Source: Preventive Medicine

Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.02.027

“The effects of a 2-year individualised and family-based lifestyle intervention on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and diet in children.”

Authors: Anna Viitasalo, Aino-Maija Eloranta, Niina Lintu, Juuso Väistö, , Taisa Venäläinen, Sanna Kiiskinen, , Panu Karjalainen, Jaana Peltola, Eeva-Kaarina Lampinen, Eero A. Haapala, Jussi Paananen, Ursula Schwab, Virpi Lindi, Timo A. Lakka.

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