New programs help kids get to a healthy weight

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by KING 5 Children's HealthLink

KING5.com

Posted on January 22, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Updated Saturday, Jan 22 at 1:55 PM

A treadmill helped save David Duran's life. So did workout weights, and extra exercise.  Two years ago at twelve years old and weighing in at 187, doctors told David he was way too heavy.

"I was just this much more to go, and then I would have been diabetic," he explained.

It's estimated nearly 20 percent of all children in the United States are obese or overweight. And many of those kids are at risk of becoming obese adults. It could lead to hypertension, stroke and diabetes.

Education about those health consequences proved to be a turning point for David Duran.  

"It was just like, the fear of diabetes. I didn't even know what it was, but I knew it wasn't good," he said.

Virginia Commonwealth University's Dr. Daphne Bryan runs a novel weight management program called the T.E.E.N.S. 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 explained about factors that lead to childhood obesity.

To date, all graduates of the T.E.E.N.S program 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,'" David's sister, Melitza, said after she joined the program.

Melitza went from 216 pounds to 184 pounds in two years.

David has lost 47 pounds and, so far, has staved off diabetes. He hopes other kids are paying attention.

"Feels like you can just take on the world, anything!" he said.

Programs like the one at Virginia Commonwealth University are slowly taking root at universities across the country. Locally a program called the ACT program is available through some local YMCA facilities. It is operated in partnership with Seattle Children's. Children who want to participate must be referred by their doctors. 

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