BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - A program at the University at Buffalo is having great success in helping obese children and their families lose weight.
Kids who are obese are likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Children become obese because of the great attractiveness of some foods and their inability to resist temptation.
In one study, kids were told that if they put off eating a marshmallow long enough, they could have two. Most couldn't wait.
Dr. Leonard Epstein of the UB Division of Behavioral Medicine said, "When you put the two things together, very reinforcing food and the inability to delay gratification, is that you end up with kids who are overweight, who eat more than they need."
Dr. Epstein has been developing weight loss programs for children for decades. At first he was also working on drug abuse.
"We found out that the same gene that tends to regulate being susceptible to drug abuse are the same genes that make people susceptible to food," he said.
That genetic link is part of the reason obesity runs in families.
Dr. Epstein explained, "If there are two obese parents, 80 percent of the offspring will be obese. If there's one, 40 percent will be obese, and if there's two lean parents, only 10 percent."
But any obese child can lose weight.
Dr. Epstein's program uses a traffic-light system to classify foods. Red foods are high in calories, low in nutrition - stop! Yellow foods can be approached with caution, and green are the good ones - eat all you want.
They teach the skills to make better food choices and to get more exercise. And it works!
"In our last study, 50 percent of kids, 10 years later, were normal weight. And not only does it help the kids, it helps the parents. Our average weight loss for parents is over 20 pounds," Dr. Epstein said.
These programs involve 16 meetings over a six-month period. If you're interested in participating, call 829-3400 or e-mail: email@example.com
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