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From The CriticsReviewer: Roula Tzianetas, RDN, BASc (University of British Columbia)
Description: This overview of childhood obesity includes literature from various studies that look at the causes, consequences, and prevention and treatment of childhood obesity.
Purpose: The purpose is to increase awareness of childhood obesity and the complexity of this health concern among health professionals and society. In addition, the authors intend to provide some practical expertise. The objectives are very worthy and this collaboration is greatly needed to disseminate a collection of research on childhood obesity. Although the book provides information on the causes, consequences, and treatment options for childhood obesity, there is limited information on the outcomes of some of the treatment strategies (i.e., how do things work in practice? What strategies work and do not work with children).
Audience: According to the authors, the book is primarily written for health and research workers. It is also suggested that the book will reach a wider group of individuals that the authors have not specified. In my opinion, the book is written at a level for health professionals and I do not believe it is user-friendly for the general population. The majority of the authors have a wide variety of experience in certain areas of childhood obesity.
Features: The book addresses a variety of topics that relate to childhood obesity. It begins with a description of the pathology, epidemiology, and sociological issues surrounding obesity. It provides a synopsis of the possible clinical outcomes of childhood obesity and an overview of the prevention strategies such as diet, activity, and drug therapies. Most interesting is the concluding chapter that focuses on future issues and research opportunities in this area. While the authors' intentions may have been good, I question the use of the drawing on the cover. As health practitioners working with children, we need to have empathy, but I found that the drawing may be interpreted in a negative manner by individuals who live with obesity. I think it continues to perpetuate the stigma associated with obesity and would prefer a comprehensive picture of body images on the cover. Realizing that the book cannot cover every topic extensively, I would like to have seen a review of how some of the practical applications work with children living with obesity. Specifically, reviewing the current research on behavior modification (i.e., why do some children change; what influences their change; what are their experiences; what works and doesn't work with regards to behavior modification and the outcomes of these strategies). Lastly, the use of the term "slimming" is an important issue. The authors need to present their interpretation and use of this term, since it can be misinterpreted. It may conjure up an image of needing to be "thinner" where our goal as health professionals is to encourage healthy weights for children so that they can live healthy lives.
Assessment: This book covers a complex topic taking into consideration a wide variety of determinants of obesity. The synopsis of the material is very useful to health professionals as it provides updated information and raises many questions for future research.