Live Big with Ali Vincent Episodes
More than one third of all kids in the U.S. are either overweight or obese. Many will go on to struggle with their weight as adults. Ali travels to Kansas City to check out a program designed to help these kids.
Kansas City is the largest city in the state of Missouri. It's population continues to grow each year, unfortunately so does the rate of obesity. Almost one third of the people who live there are clinically obese.
"A team of specialists at the University of Kansas Medical Center is looking to stop and even, hopefully, reverse that trend," says Ali. "With the Healthy Hawks program geared at helping children with weight struggles and their families."
While in Kansas City, Ali visits with Jane Sosland, psychologist for Healthy Hawks program.
"We see kids from as young as I believe 22 months was our youngest we've seen," says Dr. Sosland. "He was, he could hardly walk. He had so much weight on his little body that he would want to be carried by his mom and dad."
The program is made up of a team of doctors, which include a nurse practitioner, a psychologist and a dietician/nutritionist who work with children up to age 18 and also teaches parents about health and nutrition.
Nutrition plays a major role in one's health and getting children to make healthier food choices is not always an easy task, so Healthy Hawks uses the Traffic Light Diet to promote healthy food habits.
"It categorizes food into three food groups so the red foods are the stop food. They're the ones you want to not have hardly any at all," says Dietician Kelsey Dean. "Those would be the junk food, high sugar, and high fat."
"We have the green foods and those are the go foods and those are just fruits and vegetables, nothing added, so those you can have in unlimited portions," he says.
Families that join Healthy Hawks are most times referred by their pediatricians when a child is at risk for developing health complications related to excess weight, or if they already suffer them. The hope is that the program can educate the families and promote the child's weight-loss to subsequently get their health under control. Malissa Bray is one of the program's success stories. At the tender age of 5 Malissa was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and was referred to the program. Now 17, Healthy Hawks has taught her valuable about health and nutrition.
"Have you learned anything nutritionally that you would like to share that maybe other 17 year olds have no idea about?" asks Ali.
"Yeah, the junk food that we eat, it may taste amazing but if you're not going to do anything with it, it's just basically sitting there," says Malissa. "You need to watch that. Like not eat so much if you're not going to exercise."
"I was like the worst offender before Healthy Hawks. I was the one that people were telling me not to eat stuff," says Rachel, another standout in Healthy Hawks program.
"So what are some of the things that you apply as a result of Healthy Hawk?" asks Ali.
"Like portion control and reading labels and being more aware of what I'm eating," she says. "I really do like the red light, green light thing cause it's not really a diet and you don't have to cut everything out."
"I just want to be healthy. Like when they asked me what my goal was I just said, 'I want to be skinny and tan,'" she says. "They helped me realize that I wanted to be health and strong not skinny and tan."
Food, of course, is only one component of the program. Healthy Hawks also promotes fitness.
"Exercise needs to somehow be incorporated. It also needs to be fun or kids are not going to do it," says Dr. Sosland.
Toya Morris, mother of four kids enrolled in Healthy Hawks, appreciates the program's approach to fitness and nutrition. Her daughter is now an enthusiast about playing on the soccer team as a result.
"Before she was doing it but kind of moped around and didn't want to," says Morris. "But because it's such a big deal to do things here, she's a big asset on the team and so I get to see the joy on her face."
Her daughter has also seen physical benefits from her involvement in the program.
"She's leaned out and she's a lot faster than she was before the program so it has benefitted her health-wise," Morris says.
For more information about Healthy Hawks please visit kumc.edu.