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Program aimed at obesity in children

March 19, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A weight management program for children and teens that involves the whole family has come to Franklin County.

About 40 people attended an open house Monday to learn about the Shapedown program, said Patti Carey of the Nutritional Counseling Services at Summit Health Improvement Center, which is running the program.

Carey has no statistics on pediatric obesity in Franklin County, but said the county is "one of the fattest counties in the state when you look at the adult statistics. If parents are obese, children have a significant risk of being obese themselves.

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"Looking at the adult population, you can infer that we most likely have a large pediatric population that is over-fat," she said.

Research shows that the earlier a child becomes fat, the more likely obesity will persist into adulthood, Carey said. The dangers of obesity are many.

"We're seeing children ... in doctors' offices with the beginnings of chronic diseases typically seen in adults, such as sleep apnea, joint problems and asthma exacerbated by obesity," she said.

Impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance, which are precursors to diabetes, also are showing up in children and teens, she said.

"This is a huge health issue and health-dollar issue. The system is overburdened."

Identifying children as obese and getting the family in for treatment as early as possible is crucial, Carey said.

"If we can change the family's lifestyle, we have a better chance of putting the brakes on this issue and significantly decreasing the risks of these diseases," she said.

The first group in the 10-week Shapedown program will begin in May, with a second one scheduled for August.

For more information about Shapedown, call Carey at 717-217-6700, ext. 3942.

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