Kids who are overweight
lose more weight if they use an app on their smart phone than if they use traditional face-to-face support groups claims a childhood obesity expert - suggesting that anonymity is the key to their success.
Speaking at the European Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France
, Dr Robert Pretlow from the Research Institute at eHealth International in Seattle - who runs a kids' weight loss site and has developed a diet app - said his research revealed that children using the anonymous website lost 7.4lbs or 3.4kgs compared with 10lbs or 4.5kgs on average among the youngsters using the app.
Dr Pretlow said: "Programmes such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Drug Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous (OA), and Food Addicts Anonymous demonstrate that support groups are indispensable in the addiction treatment approach.
"The crucial point is that people remain anonymous.
"Group support helps the obese person tolerate withdrawal from problem foods and adds motivation to keep going. Re-addiction is prevented by socially learning to cope with life without turning to food."
Pretlow used his own interactive site weigh2rock.com
for overweight youngsters as an example. He said users have posted in excess of 160,000 anonymous messages. Subscribers to the site - which has 17,628 users - have a mean age of 14.2 years, and mean body mass index of 32.7, making them obese.
His smart phone app "W8Loss2Go", uses anonymous online social networking to help kids wean themselves off junk food and overeating. It uses a buddy system, peer groups and mentors.
In a four month preliminary study of the app, 12 obese youngsters aged from nine to 22 years used the programme, with a mean weight loss of 10lb.
Dr Pretlow said: "Results of an exit questionnaire indicate that the social networking support was invaluable in participants becoming unhooked from their problem foods and large portion sizes.
"While weight loss from social networking is not as much as face-to-face weight loss programs, social networking is much cheaper and much more widely available.
"It is also ongoing for weight maintenance and dealing with relapses.
"Many young people using our website have posted that they have done so for five to 10 years, lost or maintained weight, left, and then returned when they relapsed."
Do you agree with these findings?
Isn't is simply that an app is less socially embarrassing than a group for a teen, and easier to use than a specific time and date?
- Beat a drum
<p>Learning how to play the drums is both satisfying and healthy. Drumming increases the heart rate, encourages you to use the whole body and helps with co-ordination and muscle control. It's also enormous fun. Choose between lessons or family drumming days and unleash your inner rock star.</p>
- Go walking
<p>Walk to school, walk to the shops, walk to the park and just keep on going. Little ones can handle a fairly steady pace and, if it's quite a hike, take along some water and a healthy snack.</p>
<p>The simple stride has oodles of <a href="http://www.ramblers.org.uk/info/everyone/health.html" target="_blank">health benefits,</a> is easy to do, doesn't need special equipment and it's free.</p>
- Get gaming
<p>A study by a professor of Exercise Science at BYU proved that <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/07/01/why-my-children-dont-need-wii-hab/" target="_blank">exergames</a> (exercise games) burn sufficient calories to form part of a valid exercise regime.</p>
<p>This means that you can enjoy Wii Boxing without feeling guilty. Most fitness and dance games are available for all three consoles (Wii, Xbox 360, Playstation 3) and some of the best include <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Take-2-Nickelodeon-Fit-Wii/dp/B004KJECWO" target="_blank">Nickelodeon Fit,</a><a href="http://www.ubi.com/UK/Games/Info.aspx?pId=9410" target="_blank">Dance Juniors </a>, <a href="http://www.majescoentertainment.com/games/display_game.php?PLTFRM=kinect-for-xbox-360&GN=zumba-fitness" target="_blank">Zumba Fitness </a>, <a href="http://www.ubi.com/US/Games/Info.aspx?pId=9808" target="_blank">Just Dance 3</a> and <a href="http://www.konami.com/games/walk-it-out" target="_blank">Walk it Out</a>.</p>
- Try yoga
<p>Yoga is a brilliant way to keep fit and supple and it is available in all sorts of flavours. You can start out healthy with <a href="http://www.nct.org.uk/courses/antenatal-courses/nct-yoga-pregnancy" target="_blank">pregnancy yoga</a>, follow up with baby yoga, upgrade to classes for kids aged two and up, and even use <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=yoga+for+kids&tbo=p&tbm=vid&source=vgc&hl=en&aq=f" target="_blank">YouTube</a>.</p>
<p>You’ll find classes in your area through the NCT for pregnant mums and the well known <a href="http://www.yogabugs.com/home.aspx" target="_blank">Yoga Bugs </a> offer courses across the UK.</p>
- Create an obstacle course at home
<p>Whip up an obstacle course <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00gmmv8)" target="_blank">Total Wipeout</a> style and prepare to be amazed at how much fun you all have.</p>
<p>Suck in your gut, sweep your legs back and forth and convert yourself into the Crazy Sweeper while giggling offspring jump over your limbs.</p>
<p>You'll get a whopping workout while they burn off energy. Turn yourself into the Sucker Punch, jump from one cushion to another, or clamber around the room without touching the floor.</p>
- Take a dip
Swimming falls into the category of vigorous exercise and is excellent for buoyant workouts that allow for all levels of fitness.</p>
Whether you hover in the shallow end playing with your water wary children or throw down some lengths, you will be moving muscles and burning fat. And thanks to lovely heated pools you don't have to plunge your shivering body into icy water in winter.</p>
- Skip to my Lou
According to the <a href="http://www.brsa.org.uk/pages/skip-yourself-fit.htm" style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;" target="_blank">British Rope Skipping Foundation</a><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;"> a ten minute session of skipping has the same health benefits as a 45 minute run.</span></p>
If you can't remember how to skip, your kids will only be too happy to help, and laughing at a parent is a great motivator.</p>
- Don't spare the horses
Horse riding is great for improving posture, burning fat and keeping the body active. If you've never clambered aboard one of these amazing animals before, then one hour of riding will soon see you groaning at the aches and pains in new places. Horse riding can be tackled by anyone at any age except, of course, pregnant mums and newborn babes.</p>
- Try two wheels
Cycling is something that the entire family can enjoy and children love it. Teaching kids to cycle can be a tad challenging, fortunately <a href="http://www.sustrans.org.uk/assets/files/leaflets/sustrans_cyclingwithchildren_March08.pdf" style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;" target="_blank">Sustrans </a><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">has a handy guide on how to introduce your kids to cycling and tips on keeping safe while on the roads.</span></p>
Then took a look at the <a href="http://www.sustrans.org.uk/what-we-do/national-cycle-network)" target="_blank">National Cycle Network </a> for scenic and traffic-free routes in your area.</p>
- Just roll with it
<p><span style="font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Scooting is a fantastic way to keep fit, have fun and enjoy the outdoors together (and it’s kinder to your purse - they don’t require pricey petrol!). Check out </span><a href="http://9nl.it/MicroscooterTrixx/" style="font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;" target="_blank">Micro Scooters</a><span style="font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"> for wheels suitable for all ages. The range can help improve your child’s balance and co-ordination skills, plus the products are not just for kids – the brand also has a </span><a href="http://www.micro-scooters.co.uk/mums-fit.php" style="font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;" target="_blank">Mums' Scooter Club</a><span style="font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"> (you know you want to…!). </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">A recent study by Mirco Scooters also found teachers who scoot to work garner greater respect from their pupils and the pupils' parents. </span></p>