Home » Content creation » Food and Nutrition » Behavior change: My 12 year old daughter is obese. How can I politely tell her that we are going to put her on a diet?

Behavior change and modification are critical to obesity control and management. Healthcare practitioners use these to bring about a mindset change. Self-regulation is the most effective in behavior modification, which helps in obesity control and management. Motivation helps to improve physical activity levels and quality.

Through behavioral interventions, changes in diet and physical activity can be affected. These assist in weight loss, which in turn leads to improvements in health parameters.

Setting goals, feedback processes, planning, and revisiting goals bring about improvements in physical activity. These also help teach healthy eating habits (Hutchesson et al., 2015). Internet-based applications help get instant personalized feedback. These assist in bringing about substantial weight loss. This gain was observed at least in the short term (Sherrington et al., 2016).

While behavioral interventions seem to be effective in promoting weight loss, maintaining them is a challenge. Most individuals tend to regain weight or at least a part of it within a year, even after losing weight.

Behavior change helps sustain weight loss. Behavior change happens if you enjoy it, and it prevails when accompanied by self-monitoring and coping strategies. Physical and psychological resources must be made available to maintain self-regulated change behavior. The changes need to be supported by a supportive environment and social support.

A systematic, goal-based comprehensive approach supports behavior change. According to the non-profit Obesity Action Coalition organization based out of the US, the following are the critical components of a behavior change strategy:

  1. Setting up realistic goals and self-monitoring mechanisms
  2. Increasing physical activity
  3. Teaching the body and understanding how to nourish behavior change.
  4. Engaging in a support group

Obesity is a complex disease. People suffering from obesity may not get to lose weight by only eating less and doing exercise. An adverse prenatal environment may induce long-term metabolic consequences like obesity and insulin resistance. Inappropriate growth during pregnancy or lactation may increase the risk of developing obesity. The mother and, through her, the child gets impacted by related metabolic actions. (Vickers, 2007 (https://journals.lww.com/co-endocrinology/Abstract/2007/02000/Developmental_programming_and_adult_obesity__the.5.aspx))

Food consumed by the mother during pregnancy plays a critical role in fetal development. Understanding the role of diet and nutrition in modifying genetic expression is complex. Food choice, diversity of nutrient intake, individual genetic differences, intestinal environment, physiological action in an individual’s intestine, and impact on the individual from the use of new technologies by consumers – all play a part in obesity expression. (Cobiac, 2007 (https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/107065))

Epigenetic marks or imprinting affect gene expression without changing the DNA sequence. Epigenetics is responsible for the increased susceptibility of an individual to obesity. External exposures during critical development periods can alter the profile of epigenetic marks and result in obesity. (Herrera et al., 2011 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21466928)

Epigenetic markers are responsible for obesity at birth. Several of these are modifiable by changing the fetus’s exposure to the uterus and undertaking lifestyle changes in adult life. Interventions in postnatal life can modify unfavorable epigenetic profiles. (Van Dijk et al., 2015 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566855))  It is vital to understand the relationship between epigenetics, nutrition, and obesity. We then require to understand underlying mechanisms. Only then should we begin to use supplements, medication, etc., to tackle obesity.

You may not get results if you focus only on diet and exercise. Mixing these interventions with behavior change measures and lifestyle management will help sustain weight loss gains.

Book reference:

Natural Solutions for Obesity

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