FOR FAMILIES

What Will SHAPEDOWN Do For Me?
For Children and Teens - SHAPEDOWN will help you take care of your health and happiness. You will learn to create an active, full life so that food, television and computer activities are less important. You will talk about your feelings and needs so that you will feel safer and happier. You will learn strategies to stop kids from teasing you and you will feel better about your body and about yourself. SHAPEDOWN brings out the best in you!

For Parents - SHAPEDOWN will help you feel better about your parenting and about your child. You will let go of guilt, fear and frustration about your child's weight as you put into practice positive changes in your family's lifestyle and communication. In many cases, changes from SHAPEDOWN are profound. Parents are amazed at their child's new happiness and vitality and at the richness of their family life.

Is SHAPEDOWN Right For Me?
Not necessarily. That's why care begins with a bio-psychosocial assessment by your SHAPEDOWN Provider (older children and adolescents can receive a computerized Youth Evaluation Scale [Y.E.S.] assessment). Through it you learn all the areas in which you are already healthy and the areas to focus on to get the best results with your weight. The right care for you may involve SHAPEDOWN, in a group or individually, and/or other kinds of treatment.

Should All Kids Be Thin?
No. Children come in all sizes and shapes that are perfectly normal. The goal in SHAPEDOWN is for the child or teen to gradually attain their genetic body build, which ranges from willowy to rounded.

What If The Weight Is Just Genetic?
The goals of those with simple genetic obesity are to accept their genetic body build, to develop healthful habits and to avoid a dieting psychology. Each of these goals is addressed in SHAPEDOWN.

Is SHAPEDOWN Safe?
Weight loss for children and teens can be hazardous. Rapid weight loss or strict diets can affect growth and development, promote binge eating, slow metabolism and result in weight gain. SHAPEDOWN is safe. It encourages gradual, safe weight loss or the maintenance of weight as the child grows.

Is SHAPEDOWN Effective?
Yes. Controlled studies have shown that when families participate in SHAPEDOWN, there is significant improvement in weight, self-esteem, depression, diet and exercise habits and weight management knowledge. However, progress varies depending on how open to change the child and family are.

How Long Does It Take?
SHAPEDOWN may be available in a group format or on an individual counseling basis. Group programs include an intensive, 10-week schedule with meetings of about 2 hours weekly to give families basic SHAPEDOWN training. They can then continue care through ADVANCED SHAPEDOWN, a nurturing program that deepens and extends their progress. ADVANCED SHAPEDOWN meets weekly or biweekly for 20 weeks or more. Children enjoy the SHAPEDOWN groups as a chance to be with other kids. Parents receive support from other parents and delight in their child's progress.

Where Was SHAPEDOWN Developed?
SHAPEDOWN was developed at the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco with support from federal and health agencies. SHAPEDOWN is revised annually to integrate the latest research on diet, exercise, obesity, child and adolescent development and the family.

Who Teaches SHAPEDOWN?
Only licensed health professionals teach SHAPEDOWN. Teams may include a registered dietitian, mental health professional, physician, nurse and exercise specialist. All SHAPEDOWN Providers, in addition to their own professional training, complete specialized clinical education in child and adolescent obesity.

How Does SHAPEDOWN Work?
SHAPEDOWN builds on the strength of the family. It gently and effectively supports families in creating an active lifestyle and a healthy but not depriving diet. Parents tune up their nurturing skills to curb their child's emotional overeating and sharpen their limit-setting skills to prompt their child toward a healthier lifestyle. The child accepts more responsibility for diet and activity and feels happier and safer. Food becomes less important, activity more exciting and the child's weight begins to normalize.

What Other Therapies Are Involved?
SHAPEDOWN not only helps families target changes in nutrition and activity but focuses on common underlying factors that fuel a child's excessive appetite for food and inactive pursuits. Although exercise physiology, nutrition and behavioral techniques are used, the power in SHAPEDOWN comes from its sensitive, entertaining and practical use of family therapy and psychoeducational techniques.

Is There A Diet?
No. Diets typically cause children to feel deprived and, as a consequence, to overeat. Instead, SHAPEDOWN supports gradually adopting a moderate food intake that provides essential nutrients based on the Recommended Dietary Allowances and the National Cholesterol Education Program Guidelines.

What About Exercise?
SHAPEDOWN stresses overall fitness, including endurance, flexibility and strength. Children and parents develop a more active lifestyle and replace television viewing and other inactive pursuits with chores, interests, sports and projects.

What Else Is Addressed?
A wide range of strategies help the child and parent take care of their emotional and physical health. For example, children learn techniques that effectively stop peer teasing. Parents free themselves from the weightism of our society. Families learn communication techniques to resolve conflicts.

Is SHAPEDOWN Appropriate For Us?
SHAPEDOWN caters to diversity - the program is sensitive to the educational, social and emotional stages of the child. Ethnic, cultural and economic differences are reflected in the program as are a range of family types, such as single parents and blended families.

Does SHAPEDOWN Treat Parents Too?
In SHAPEDOWN, the whole family changes so parents often see weight loss and improvements in their own diet, activity, blood pressure and serum cholesterol. However, overweight parents need an assessment from their own healthcare provider to determine the best form of care for them.

Which Parent Should Attend?
If both parents reside in the area, both parents should attend. Also, step-parents, aunts and friends, or anyone who takes a parenting role, is encouraged to participate. If one parent is more removed from a child, their presence may be even more important. Questions about your particular situation should be discussed with your SHAPEDOWN Provider.

What If Parents Don't Want To Eat Healthy and Exercise?
Then SHAPEDOWN is not right for the child. The SHAPEDOWN philosophy is that parents should not ask of their child anything they are not willing to do themselves. However, the SHAPEDOWN lifestyle changes are gentle and flexible and fit into the priorities and capabilities of most parents.

Here are some facts about child and adolescent obesity . . .

The prevalence of overweight children and teens has tripled during the past 30 years.

Overweight in young people is diverse in cause and consequence and benefits from an individual assessment to develop an individualized care plan.

50% to 70% of the obese young will be obese adults. Family weight problems, severe obesity and the young person's age increase risk that the obesity will persist into adulthood.

The medical consequences of obesity vary. However, obese children and teens have an increased prevalence of hypertension, respiratory problems, hyperlipidemia, bone and joint difficulties, hyperinsulinemia, and irregular periods.

The psychosocial disadvantages of overweight in the young include peer teasing, scholastic discrimination, low self-esteem and negative body image.

Weight difficulties in children and adolescents are highly treatable when a family-based approach is used. Studies have shown that if the treatment includes parents and focuses on the family's lifestyle and communication, weight loss is maintained, on the average, even at five- and ten-year follow-up.

Getting Started With SHAPEDOWN

To get started with SHAPEDOWN:

  1. Email us (info@shapedown.com) and give us your city, state, zip code and telephone area code and we will provide you with a Referral to the nearest SHAPEDOWN Provider in your area so you can join a local SHAPEDOWN Program delivered by a licensed health professional trained to provide safe, effective child and adolescent obesity care.
  2. Order an age-appropriate SHAPEDOWN Workbook for your child or teenager and companion SHAPEDOWN Parent's Guide for yourself.