Fighting childhood obesity -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Fighting childhood obesity

September 6, 2006

Albany - Remember going to PE as a child? Running outside with your classmates, or doing sit-ups in Gym class? Well, you may, but there's a chance your children won't. Budget cuts have forced some schools to reduce physical education classes, contributing to the problem of childhood obesity. One Albany woman is on a mission to stop it.

Two years ago, Pamela Green-Jackson lost her 43 year old brother to obesity and diabetes. "Watching him struggle for years prior to that and watching him sick in the hospital and watching his organs shut down one by one, I just felt God called me to make a difference for someone else," she says.  That's why she founded a program called Youth Becoming Healthy, tteaching kids how to eat healthy and that exercise can be fun.  She says, "It's sad to see even kids that are overweight. There's children as young as 12 years old that have diabetes, high blood pressure, some of them even have sleep apnea, which affects them in school."

But she wants them to succeed, in school and in life. On Wednesday, the fourth YBH center in Dougherty County opened at Southside Middle School. "It makes a difference," says Jackson, "because that's one less child that will have to suffer the way my brother did."

And if it's not always fun for the kids, they'll have a little motivation from their biggest fan to keep them going, Principal Johnny Scott.  He says, "I'll be here with them. I'm the biggest cheerleader that Southside has. I'm the principal and cheerleader, so I'm going to be here to let them know that you can receive positive results if you come in here and work out." And their work product will be a little better.

Jackson says, "If a child is healthier physically, they'll do better in school and they'll miss less days of school."

All a student has to do to enroll in the program is have a parent sign a form and bring it back to the school. The center is open from 3:30-6:30 each evening. Staff and parents are also allowed to work out there free of charge.

There are three other YBH centers at Albany, Radium and Dougherty Middle schools. There are plans to expand to the other middle schools and eventually to Dougherty County elementary schools.  

Here's a look at some of the numbers for childhood obesity:  According to the CDC, the prevalence of children 6 to 11 who are overweight more than doubled in the past 20 years. The rate among adolescents aged 12 to 19 more than tripled. Obesity is the 7th leading preventable cause of death in the US.



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