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Combating Obesity in Teens is Family Effort

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CINCINNATI--Sixteen-year-old Kayla Campbell and 11-year-old Kevin Davis may be young, but they already know their lives have to change.

"I wanted to get healthier at the time I learned I had high cholesterol," Kevin said.

"In my family, we have a lot of health problems, like high blood pressure, heart problems," Kayla said.

More than 35 percent of America's kids are overweight or obese. The newest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control show obesity numbers are falling for children ages 2 to 5, but teen numbers are staying the same.

Pediatrician Dr. Bob Siegel says he's seeing effects from community efforts to stop the growing problem.

Doctors who work every day with overweight kids say their hard work to get healthy is not just about looks. Most are realizing at a young age they'll feel better, perform better, and live longer.

Dustin Holston was 19 when his heart problems forced him to have weight-loss surgery. It's not a common procedure for kids, but it saved Dustin's life. He has lost 160 pounds.

"I feel 100 times better," he said. "I used to not be able to walk from the grocery store parking lot to the store."

Dustin's new lease on life also forced him to learn a new lifestyle.

"I don't eat red meat anymore," he said. "It's a lot of sticking to high protein, low sugar, watching everything you eat."

Dustin is studying to become a social worker, to help other young people affected by obesity.

A children's hospital program called HealthWorks helps Kayla and Kevin stay on track. Doctors say it's key to get kids support, and get the whole family involved.

"They can alter the environment around the child," Siegel said. "They can be supportive."

"When you think you can't do stuff, push yourself harder and harder until you make it," Kevin said.

Keeping young people moving forward could be just what reverses a health problem affecting all families.

Parents can also make mistakes that could present setbacks for kids trying to lose weight, like keeping sugary drinks or poor food choices in the home, and they shouldn't expect the child to lose weight and get healthy on his own.
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Reporting by Sheila Gray, WKRC-TV

Combating Obesity in Teens is Family Effort


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