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Anti-obesity program helps young Staten Islanders live healthy lives

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Buffalo: Anti-obesity program helps young Staten Islanders live healthy lives
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The Department of Health says one in five New York City kindergartners are obese, but a program that has been at Staten Island University Hospital for 10 years has brought together a team of experts to fight the childhood obesity epidemic. Bree Driscoll filed the following report.

The Centers for Disease Control say childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years and can lead to a whole host of serious illnesses.

Dr. Carmen Torrado-Jule says they include, "Chronic high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and infertility in females."

The Healthy Lifestyle For Kids program at Staten Island University Hospital in Ocean Breeze has been serving children ages 8 to 18 for the last decade. Torrado-Jule is its director.

"It helps them to identify those obstacles and helps them find out what they need to change in their life so they can be successful at staying healthy," says Torrado- Jule.

The six-week program incorporates teaching children to eat healthy which can take some strategy. Nutritionist Andrea Doria-Cameron says the first step to healthier eating is incorporating more fruits and vegetables.

"Keep exposing them to it, and maybe it is that they go online and they pick out the recipe online. And so if we're going to try cauliflower, well how do you want to try cauliflower?" says Doria-Cameron.

"When you are working with a pediatric population in general you are not working to lose weight as if you were an adult," says Tom Verticchio, the program's licensed physical therapist.

Verticchio says the lack of exercise in our society if having a huge impact on children.

"Exercise helps us think, it helps us learn and it also relieves a lot of stress. So we have these 12-, 13-year-old children who are highly stressed and are overweight," he says.

Doctors say the reason why their program is so successful is they not only use traditional avenues for healthy living, such as educating about proper nutrition and engaging children in physical fitness, but they also incorporate a mental health aspect.

Dr. Jean Spinelli, a psychologist, says, "A lot of time the kids have dealt with struggles with lower self esteem, stigmatization from other kids at school."

Spinelli says incorporating group work and parent involvement are key elements to the program.

"The more you involved parents, the children have greater weight losses and longer maintenance of those weight losses," she says.

For more information in the Healthy Lifestyle For Kids program, call 1-718-226-6915.

nyhealth.gov

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