Class attacking all sides of obesity

Teaching kids to fight obesity takes more than getting them to heat their veggies.

"Trying to change behavior for kids and their families to help them develop healthy lifestyles for forever," said Pediatric Gastroenterologist Dr. Patrice Tyson.

Our Lady of the Lake is taking a novel approach to the obesity epidemic with a pediatric weight management class.

The class runs 10 weeks and enrolls about 10 students at a time.  The kids and their families are referred, because they are all at risk for obesity and other health problems.

"We have kids with high blood pressure, with diabetes, we've had kids that have had to have surgery on their legs because they've put so much weight on those young bones it's actually caused destruction of the bones," explained Tyson.

The class doesn't focus on losing weight as much as it does changing the attitude about healthy living. There's a whole team of dieticians, exercise experts and even psychologists showing these families the way.

"Show them that eating healthy, it's fun and it's cost efficient as well," said registered dietitian Angelle Pate.

One of the many tips they offer is a 5-2-1-0-10 approach.

"Five fruits and vegetables a day, no more than two hours of screen time, an hour of physical activity every day, no sugary drinks, and aim for 10 hours of sleep every night," said Health Educator Jeff Soileau.

"My whole perspective has turned around being here. Everything I thought I knew, I didn't know," said mother Natasha Johnson.

Her 13 year old daughter Kourtney is one of the course's prized pupils.  When she started the class, Kourtney was at risk for diabetes.  Now, she is running 5K races.

"It was fun. I didn't think that I could do it, but we finished in a good time and I want to do another one," said Kourtney.

Believe it or not, these teachers say the biggest challenge isn't helping the kids, it's getting the parents on board.

"I'm working with elementary school kids. So it's really young kids and an 8 year old doesn't decide what gets purchased and prepared. So it's getting access to families and convincing the whole family to change their attitudes about health," said Soileau.

But, with results like Kourtney's, the whole family is catching on.

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