No, it’s not one of those in-your-dreams headlines like “chocolate is good for you!” According to a “A ‘Novel’ Intervention: A Pilot Study of Children’s Literature and Healthy Lifestyle,” a new study in the respected journal Pediatrics, reading – particularly reading about healthy behaviors – can actually be a tool in helping obese kids lose weight.
At the Duke University Healthy Lifestyles Program, a nationally known comprehensive clinical and behavioral lifestyle-modification program for overweight and obese children, 81 obese girls were divided randomly into three groups. One group was given an “intervention” book in which an overweight girl “discovers improved health and self-efficacy” while a second group was given a “control” book without a health lesson. The third group didn’t get a book.
The results were startling: “Girls who read either book had a significantly greater reduction in BMI percentile … than girls who were followed in the program but who were not assigned a book,” while “There was a significantly greater reduction in BMI percentile among those in the intervention-book group … versus those in the control-book group.” The researchers concluded: “Age-appropriate fiction, particularly if it addresses health-oriented behaviors, shows potential for augmenting weight loss in girls who participate in a weight-management program. Future research is needed to determine if the novel is effective for healthy lifestyle promotion among all overweight and obese adolescents.” say the authors of the report