School pilot program fights obesity - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

School pilot program fights obesity

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March 15, 2004

Albany- Weeks into a routine workout, 7th grader Audreana Whitfield knows a lot more about physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

"Running treadmill, it like helps you lose some body fat," she said. "And lifting weight helps you get muscular."

YMCA trainers and volunteers are working with the students on the fundamentals of exercises like bench pressing and running.

"Our time is spent showing them the proper technique of how to lift weights," said YMCA trainer Amber Heard. "I think that's very important, especially at middle school age."

"If we can target the children early and teach them to lead healthier lifestyles by eating healthier and exercising more often, then we won't have the problem as much when they get older," said program coordinator Pamela Jackson.

But right now obesity is a major problem nationwide.

A recent government study shows obesity is on its way to becoming the number one preventable cause of death. Currently, tobacco is in the top spot. Obesity caused 400,000 deaths in the US in 2000. Tobacco caused 435,000.

One way of fighting those scary statistics is to begin healthy habits at early ages.

"Hopefully, when they go to pick up weights later by their selves, they'll remember the things we showed them in here," Heard said. "That's all we can hope to do."

Doing that now is already opening their eyes.

"Cause you don't want to grow up too overweight," Whitfield said.

And giving her the right tools to stay physically fit and lead a long and healthy life.

posted at 11:08 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com