Local camp teaches weight management

July 14, 2009 3:09:16 PM PDT
A heart attack is shocking when someone is 45 years old, but Houston doctors are seeing younger and younger people have heart attacks. The reason? Higher rates of obesity. In fact, Houston doctors are already treating two-year-olds for high blood pressure caused by obesity. "We've seen children as young as eight years of age with cirrhosis of the liver from their obesity-related liver disease," Dr. Stephanie Abrams, a pediatric liver specialist at Texas Children's Hospital, said. "Fatty liver disease has become the most chronic liver problem in the world and it is related to the obesity epidemic."

Abrams treats 10-year-olds with type 2 diabetes caused by obesity.

"[It is] changing how your blood vessels can function," Abrams said. "High blood pressure requiring medication at two years of age, five years of age, that used to be something we only saw in adults."

To change things, Texas Children's Hospital started a camp just for obese kids. Kamp K'anna is not a boot camp. Instead, it's like having a weight management clinic on the lake. Kids play and learn new ways of eating. Their tips:

  • Learn the difference between appetite and hunger
  • Emphasize health, not weight
  • Encourage a child to exercise one hour per day, and reward it
  • Limit screen time to two hours per day, and reward it
  • Rewards should not be food, but instead a jump rope, football or hula hoop
  • "We've seen more than 25 percent of our kids have gone from obese to overweight or normal weight in less than a year," Abrams said.

    Campers lose an average of eight pounds during the two week camp.

    This is the third year for Kamp K'aana, which begins August 2 this year. And, it still has openings for children. For more information, call Texas Children's Hospital at (832) 822-4780 or visit www.bcm.edu/kampkaana.

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    Christi Myers is ABC13's Healthcheck reporter

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