Health Team

N.C. Hospital Aims to Get Families to Lose Weight

Posted November 12, 2007 7:00 p.m. EST
Updated November 12, 2007 7:02 p.m. EST

— The number of overweight children is a growing problem across the country, but one North Carolina community is taking steps to help children and their families embrace a healthier lifestyle.

The number of overweight people has doubled – and even tripled – for some age groups over the past 30 years, according to the Institute of Medicine, which advises policymakers and health-care professions in the private and public sectors.

Between 30 and 50 percent of children in Forsyth County are overweight or obese, according to doctors at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

"When we talk about overweight or obese, that's when their weight is at a point that's starting to affect their health. And that's also putting them at risk of being obese when they're adult," Dr. Joseph Skelton, with WFUBMC's Brenner Children's Hospital, said.

Skelton teamed up with a dietitian and case manager to start up the Families in Training (FIT) program at Brenner's. FIT aims to get whole families involved in losing weight, he said.

"We have really good research that shows that if you can get a family to commit to making changes, you can essentially cure obesity in a high number of children," Skelton said.

The teams works to change the eating and exercise habits of families whose weight is affecting their health. One focus is getting families to cut back on fast food and eat more nutritious meals at home.

"Really, the best thing is modeling," Stacy Kolbash, a registered dietitian, said. "If parents are eating that food, kids will be much more likely to choose that food."

In addition to promoting exercise, FIT pushes children and parents to follow six basic principles:

  • FIVE: Eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • FOUR: Eating four meals together as a family a week.
  • THREE: Eating three meals a day.
  • TWO: Spending less than two hours a day watching a screen – whether playing computer game or watching television.
  • ONE: Doing at least one hour of physical activity every day.
  • ZERO: Drinking no sugar-sweetened drinks.