Program battling obesity helps kids lose weight, gain confidence

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Growing waistlines are a growing problem in our area, but one local doctor has created a program in an effort to combat startling statistics that may or may not shock you.

It's called the Obesity Intervention Program, and it's designed to help kids lose weight and gain confidence.

"Sadly to say, Richmond County has an extremely high obesity rate for youth," said Exercise Instructor Heather Altman.

Dr. Katrina Nguyen, a pediatric gastroenterologist at GHSU, has created a program to try and change those numbers.

"The latest statistics have shown that it's as high as 30 percent in children, so it's catching up to the adult prevalence and that number isn't getting any better," Nguyen said.

That's why she started the Obesity Intervention Program.

"All the children enrolled are M.D. referred. Some of the patients are obese and others have a family history of obesity," Nguyen said.

"[We're] trying to teach them something that is fun and something that they can do together as a family, so they can all try to make physical activity a part of their life," Altman said.

It's a 12-week program that includes a one-hour exercise class, personalized eating goals and healthy cooking classes.

"We know what our community needs. I think we're in the top five in the nation for obesity, so it's a problem, and we're gonna try our best to try and fix it," said program Dietitian Kristen Middleton.

"If we can't try to change those rates and those patterns now, it's going to get worse and life expectancy for our upcoming generations is going to continue to be shortened," Altman said.

Christopher Terry is excited how the program will improve his quality of life.

"I just want to just feel good," Terry said.

Kirk Cofer, Terry's grandfather, says he hopes the program will do two things: "Getting his cholesterol down and probably get his blood pressure regulated better."

Middleton says that's what the program is all about.

"Being healthy means living longer and happiness," she said.

Nguyen says she designed the program so that parents must attend with their children.

She says it's about a lifestyle change, and much of that starts at home.

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