Health Team

Duke program helps kids make healthy choices

Posted October 6, 2008 5:26 p.m. EDT
Updated October 6, 2008 6:24 p.m. EDT

— At Duke, the Children's Healthy Lifestyles program is designed to help children and families adopt healthy habits that can prevent obesity.

Studies show that one out of three American children is considered overweight, a condition that can increase their risk of developing heart disease or diabetes at a young age.

"We're really in the business of preventing chronic diseases, and those include high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol," Dr. Sarah Armstrong, leader of the  program, said.

Participants in the Children's Healthy Lifestyles program get medical checkups, nutritional counseling and physical challenges for the whole family.

Delaney Rosen joined last year after a doctor's visit raised concerns about her weight.

Delaney, 11, stays active by playing softball. She also learned about how she could make more conscious choices about her health.

"After I started the program, I realized I was eating because of boredom," she said.

Delaney read a book recommended through the program, Lake Rescue, about an overweight girl whose camp counselor helps her make healthier choices.

"I don't normally read stuff like that," Delaney said. "I'm into more mystery stuff, but I really liked the book."

Armstrong suggests the Beacon Girls book to many of the girls in her program.

"The theme is self-empowerment around making healthy choices," she said.

Like the story's heroine, Delaney changed her habits. She chooses healthier snacks and takes more walks with her mom.

"It's been wonderful," Delaney's mother, Lisa Rosen, said. "It's had all kinds of unexpected benefits." She noted that her family eats meals together more often since starting the program.

The Duke Children's Healthy Lifestyles program is just one of many nationwide.