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The different types of childhood obesity programs include those implemented by schools, families, communities, hospitals, and independent organizations. Many child weight loss programs address similar core principles, which include an emphasis on healthier eating habits, more frequent exercise, and improvement of self-image. In many cases, efforts to combat childhood obesity involve collaborations between families, schools, and private and public organizations. Some programs have a specific emphasis, such as providing breakfasts to schools, increasing access to physical activity, and/or educating children and families on the principles of nutrition.
School-based childhood obesity programs are usually a collaborative effort between administrators, teachers, school nurses, and parents. Typical interventions for such programs include a reduction in sugary drinks and fatty foods, decreased engagement in sedentary activities, and increased physical activity during school hours. Successful programs bring together government assistance, health education for teachers, and school health professionals who improve the nutrition knowledge of both parents and children. Programs are generally more effective when examined across a year or more because behavioral modifications occur slowly and incrementally.
Community-based childhood obesity programs sometimes partner with local schools or offer after-school, evening, and summer programs. When collaborating with a school, a community-based program might offer daily breakfasts, encourage walking to school, and/or facilitate after-school family-based fitness activities. Other community-based efforts include building bicycle paths in a city and repainting crosswalks to motivate children to ride bikes or walk more. Some community organizations offer weekend seminars to educate parents on elements of healthy nutrition and discuss strategies for increasing physical activity.
Independent organizations also offer childhood obesity programs for children of all ages. These programs are often in the form of summer weight loss camps, and they teach children to develop healthier eating habits and greater self-esteem. Activities generally take place over the summer and extend across weeks or months. Classes on healthy eating habits, talks by qualified health professionals, sports teams, and other recreational activities are organized to help children lose weight while having a good time.
Hospitals and public and private health organizations also implement childhood obesity programs to educate people on the link between obesity and a variety of diseases. The role of such health organizations is generally to educate parents and children and to evaluate the efforts of community-based and school-based interventions. These organizations closely examine the successes and challenges of individual child weight loss programs in order to establish effective policies and deliver sound health recommendations.
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