Local Group Fighting Child Obesity

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

October 24, 2005

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in this country--especially in children.

About 17 percent of children are over-weight in our country--that's almost two out of every five. There is a program at the University of Virginia that teaches families how to eat healthy and exercise.

"Since I lost 22 pounds I can run a much faster and longer distance. It's a lot better and I'm happier," said 4th grader Scotty Hancock Jr.

Scotty lost another 10 pounds before he started at UVa's Children's Fitness Clinic--making his total loss 32 pounds.

"When you lose a lot of weight you sometimes might get stuck at one point, but you just have to try harder," said Scotty.

Scotty walks with his mother for exercise. He must take 10,000 steps daily to walk five miles.

"He doesn't use his inhaler as much as he was. He is more active--I can see he doesn't get as tired as he used to. Before, he would have to stop and catch his breath. It's not as bad as it was," said Scotty's mother Tara Powers.

Dieticians provide meal plans--such as the plate method.

"A quarter of the plate is a starch, a quarter of a plate is meat and the remaining half is vegetables or fruit," said Erika Zeff Luther, Dietician at UVa.

"The size of my meat should be like the palm of my hand. If I have a pasta, it should be the same size as a mouse. I should have one meat, one starch and one vegetable," explained Scotty.

Any child at the BMI's 85th percentile or above can take part in the clinic.

Scotty has been in the program for about 6 months--but still has 34 pounds to lose so that he can play on his local football team.

Healthy snacks for children those that are high in protein, fiber or calcium.


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