Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief
If adolescents are going to avoid obesity, with its attendant health risks, then families need to support them. But this is not always easy as a Danish-Australian collaborative study by Eg et al. (2017) titled: 'How family interactions about lifestyle changes affect adolescents’ possibilities for maintaining weight loss after a weight-loss intervention: a longitudinal qualitative interview study' shows. The aim of the study was: 'to examine how family interactions related to lifestyle changes influence adolescents’ potential for maintaining weight loss after participating in a weight-loss treatment programme.'
Ten families with obese adolescents were followed over 5 years following a weight loss programme. Parents felt guilty at times when they knew they were not being helpful to their adolescent children, as one mother said: 'We just haven’t had the energy to go all-in and do the exercising and the slimming diet, because often we end up with these quick solutions, you know, when you come home and you’re kind of busy.' Another mother said: 'Often, I feel like an old schoolmarm, constantly scolding. Sometimes I get a bad conscience about telling him that he can’t have any more to eat. It makes you feel like some sort of watchdog.' Siblings not on a diet could make the situation more difficult: 'It can be difficult for him [the adolescent] to understand that he can’t necessarily eat the same things as [his brothers] can. Actually, I think that’s probably been the hardest thing for him to deal with.'
The authors concluded: 'It is fundamental that the entire family is supportive, regardless of family structure. Supporting the adolescent was far more difficult than families expected; more time-consuming and also a cause of family conflicts. In families with non-aligned expectations and effort levels it was difficult for the adolescent to maintain weight loss, especially when parents were divorced and not cooperating. Siblings not needing weight management seemed to play a major, but overlooked, role for the primary participant’s own weight management.'
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EG M. , FREDERIKSEN K . , VAMOSI M. & LORENTZEN V. (2017) How family interactions about lifestyle changes affect adolescents’ possibilities for maintaining weight loss after a weight-loss intervention: a longitudinal qualitative interview study. Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.13269