RICHMOND, VA -- If you had to spend one million dollars each year on doctor’s bills, you’d probably be pretty angry. Now imagine spending 100 thousand times that amount every 365 days. That’s 100 billion bucks in all. That’s how much cash the obesity epidemic costs our society each year.
A treadmill saved David Duran’s life, so did weights and extra exercise. Two years ago, at 12 years old and weighing 187 pounds, doctors told David he was way too heavy.
“It was just this much more to go and then I would have been diabetic,” said David Duran TEENS Program graduate. 20 percent of all youngsters in the U.S. are obese, and two-thirds will become obese adults, which may lead to hypertension, stroke and diabetes.
“It was just the fear of diabetes," David Duran said. "I didn’t even know what it was but I knew it wasn’t good.”
“It’s important to focus on changing that behavior,” Daphne Bryan, M.D., at Virginia Commonwealth University, explained.
Doctor Daphne Bryan runs their novel TEENS program. At-risk kids, like David and their families, meet with nutritionists and exercise scientists for two years. Doctors say whole family education boosts immersion and drives home key lessons on health.
“The activity’s just not there anymore, there’s more screen-time than running, and playing time,” Dr. Bryan said.
To date, all graduates have lowered their cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Nationally, studies show 73 percent of similar programs have positive results.
“ I started coming in, and it was like hey I lost a pound. Next day it was like hey, I lost another one,” Melitza Duran, David's sister and TEENS Program graduate, said.
David's sister Melitza went from 216 pounds to 184 in two years.
“Feels like you can just take on the world, anything,” David Duran said.
David himself lost 47 pounds, and staved-off diabetes. He hopes this country’s youngsters are paying attention. Programs like this are slowly taking root at universities across the country. All students in the VCU program are referred by local pediatricians.
Information from: (Ivanhoe Newswire)
BACKGROUND: Obesity is a major problem in the U.S., costing billions of dollars to fight each year, and the disease shows no signs of stopping. In the past thirty years, its prevalence has tripled among children between the ages of 6 and 11, increasing from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. In adolescents, it has increased from 5% to 18.1% in 2008. Obesity is caused by "caloric imbalance," or a greater amount of calories consumed than burned. Prader-Willi syndrome and Cushing's syndrome are both examples of rare diseases that can cause obesity in children. (Source: www.cdc.gov, Mayo Clinic)
RISK FACTORS: The most obvious risk factor is a diet heavy in calorie-rich foods such as baked goods, fast food, sodas, candy, and vending machine snacks. Combined with such a diet, a lack of exercise becomes all the more dangerous as the child's body doesn't burn the large amount of calories that it consumes. Family history can often predict habits and lifestyles that enable a child to develop obesity. These habits can be psychologically motivated, such as the compulsion to deal with emotional problems by overeating. Socioeconomic factors have also been proven to cause a great amount of risk, being that many families simply don't have the time and money to motivate exercise and healthy eating choices. (Source: Mayo Clinic)
HEALTH COMPLICATIONS: When children become obese, they put themselves at a high amount of risk for cardiovascular disease, in forms such as high cholesterol and hypertension. They are also more likely to develop problems in their joints due to overexertion, and are also at risk of osteoarthritis later in life. Sleep problems such as sleep apnea are also more probable, as well as psychological problems resulting from low self-esteems and poor social health. They are also at a greater risk of developing adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and different types of cancers. (Source: Mayo Clinic and surgeongeneral.gov)
T.E.E.N.S: A two year program developed at the Greater Richmond YMCA to help teens fight obesity. The program's acronym stands for "Teaching, Encouragement, Exercise, Nutrition and Support" - and was designed to educate teenagers about the various causes of obesity, and the habits which reinforce it, and encourage them to fight the disease with challenging exercise routines and better eating choices. Family support is a fundamental component of the program, as many risk factors of obesity begin at home. (Source: www.vcuchildrens.org)
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