You Are What You Eat: Education Programs Fight Childhood Obesity

The numbers are sobering: more than 9 million children between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight or obese—a number that has tripled since 1980. Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. With its world-class Obesity Institute, Children’s National is committed to fighting the national childhood obesity epidemic along two major fronts.   With KiPow™ (Kid Power), area medical students mentor children at three DC public middle schools. The mentors educate, play, and work with the kids in to improve their nutrition, physical activity levels, and health literacy. Funded by the Safeway Foundation, the program has a “pay it forward” element. Once the kids have felt the power of good health, they are encouraged to become health leaders, modeling good choices as they move through middle school and into adolescence. Benefits from this program can spread throughout the DC school district to foster a culture of health and wellness. The IDEAL Clinic (Improved Diet, Exercise, and Activity for Life) uses a personalized, multidisciplinary approach to treat obese children from the age of 2 through 18. Patients are followed by Children’s National specialists intensively for six months, then with monthly follow-up visits for 12 to 18 months. Each child receives dietary, nutritional, and weight management counseling, along with group health education and physical activity classes. Equally important, parents also receive individual education to create a home environment that encourages their child to properly manage their weight.

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