New Army program helps overweight kids

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s weight management program for children and adolescents recently helped 10 children lose between three and 15 pounds. The weight loss was the result of exercise and dietary change, trading snack cakes for veggies, over an eight-week program which began in February.
“The program has been a great success,” said Lt. Col. Joice Carter, LRMC clinical dietician. “All of the kids are now participating in some form of physical activity, even though the program ended some time ago. They also started eating breakfast, which is a great trend because it helps jump start metabolism.”
Children were identified for the program through Body Mass Index testing at KMC American schools. The test takes in to account height, weight and age.
Of the 1,900 children tested, 13.4 percent were considered obese. For example, a 300-pound 12-year-old or a 104-pound 4-year-old.
“We have [received] good feedback,” said Maj. Bruce Hess, LRMC staff pediatrician. “And we’re using that feedback to help improve the program. We want to make it so the kids want to come and their parents want to get involved. One way to do that is to make it more interactive and fewer lectures. More like play and less like school.”
“We learned a lot from the first one,” said Colonel Carter. “During the next program, we will have some form of physical activity at every meeting. We also will have coaches to work one-on-one with families at each session.”
Coaches have been trained by staff members from the Cooper Aerobic Center out of Dallas, who came here to train the staff.
Coaches will help families stay on track and give them someone to help with any concerns or questions.
“It’s like having your own Dr. Phil to talk to,” she said.
Though the program yielded some weight loss, that was not the sole measure of its success.
“Many are now able to fit into clothes they weren’t able to before, even though their pounds lost were not as high as we had hoped,” she said. “But we didn’t emphasize pounds. We were more concerned with them achieving healthy activity levels, better eating habits and lifestyle changes.”
Sustained weight loss is, after all, a long-term process – the goal being about a pound a week.
One important thing for participants of the program to remember is that help doesn’t end when the program does.
“We have ongoing educational meetings and weigh-ins once per month, following the eight weeks of intensive training,” said Major Hess.
The next program will begin July 13 at the Healthy Promotions Office at LRMC.
For more information, call the dietary clinic at 486-8191.