Washington: Parents can motivate their obese children to shed weight by working out to knock off their unwanted pounds themselves, says a new study.

"We looked at things such as parenting skills and styles, or changing the home food environment, and how they impacted a child's weight," said Kerri N. Boutelle, associate professor of paediatrics and psychiatry at University of California, San Diego, who led the study.

"The number one way in which parents can help an obese child lose weight? Lose weight themselves. In this study, it was the most important predictor of child weight loss," added Boutelle, the journal Obesity reports
Recent data suggests that 31 percent of children in the US are overweight or obese, or between four and five million children, according to a California statement.

"Parents are the most significant people in a child's environment, serving as the first and most important teachers," said Boutelle.

"They play a significant role in any weight-loss program for children, and this study confirms the importance of their example in establishing healthy eating and exercise behaviors for their kids," he added.

These findings are based on a study of 80 parent-child groups, with an eight to 12-year-old overweight or obese child, who participated in treatment programme for five months.