The dangers of being a fat child
A new study, published in the October 2012 journal Pediatrics, found that teaching kids is exactly what may help curb the childhood obesity epidemic once and for all. The study, which oversaw obese children in the JOIN for ME pilot program found that both kids AND their parents lost weight after going through the community-based pediatric obesity lifestyle intervention program where families attended a series of learning sessions to "achieve healthier weights through balanced nutrition choices, increased activity and lifestyle-improvement tracking", according the program's developer UnitedHealth Group.
This study is remarkable for me, because it's personal: I'm not exactly proud of it but I was a fat kid.
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I remember in elementary school always being a little more overweight than the rest of my classmates. Things only escalated when I hit puberty and started to gain more and more weight. It wasn't long before I was pretty overweight and, by the end of my high school career, I weighed just over 200 pounds. That's quite a lot of weight to carry on a 5-foot-2 frame. What I didn't know back then is how to eat right. When I was young, nobody taught me how to be healthy, and so I packed on the pounds and eventually became an obese adult.
Eventually, I did lose the weight but it was a struggle--many years with yo-yo dieting, eventually losing 90 pounds only to regain 80 and finally get a gastric bypass to lose 100 pounds of excess weight. Looking back, I really wish there was someone to tell me how to eat right and the kind of damage I was doing to my body (besides my parents telling me to drink less soda, even as they kept buying it!).
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Would I have been able to lose weight as a teen had the education been there for me? Probably. The biggest problem with being an overweight child is that, without the proper knowledge, it only leads to more and more eating down the line. Will community programs like this one help? I think they would. At least, they would have helped me. It would have been nice to have access to professional help earlier on but, hopefully, the kids of today will be getting it.
Image via Ed Yourdon/flickr