Fight against childhood obesity no small feat


When John Michael Giacona was in eighth grade he dreamed of becoming a Marine. But he weighed too much. He weighed 198 pounds.

"I couldn't do one pullup. I was overweight, my waist was too big. It was kinda depressing," he said.

He could have felt sorry for himself because he'd gained the weight after open heart surgery.

"I was real scared and my mom was really overprotective and wouldn't let me do any kind of sports. I wanted to play football," Giacona said.

Instead, the eighth grader made a decision.

"I decided I was sick of the way I looked and I wasn't happy," he said.

The summer before 10th grade he lost 60 pounds, and did it the hard way -- with diet and exercise.

Three years later, he aced the Marine physical. What about his heart problem?

"My cardiologist cleared me and said I was outstanding, had an elite heart," Giacona said.

The fitness training had helped strengthen his heart muscle. Then something happened he never expected: His dream changed his whole family.

"In sixth grade, I got up to 200 pounds. I was almost the biggest person in school," said his brother, Charlie Giacona.

Charlie started working out with John Michael.

"I was like I don't want to be left out, so I just tagged along with him. Everything he did I was there and I ended up losing 90 pounds," Charlie said.

Their father lost 40 pounds and their mother lost 100 pounds.

"He was the inspiration, him and Charlie," the brothers' mother, Donna Giacona, said.

And John Michael says his family's success motivated him.

"I knew I was doing something good for my brother, making his life better, and my parents helping, them live longer. It just felt really good," he said.

John Michael Giacona plans to enter the Marine Corps as an officer as soon as he finishes college. Right now, he is a biology major at University of Texas and he wants to do something in the medical field when he begins his career in the Marines.

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