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Dance Group Helps Obese Kids Develop Healthy Lifestyle

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
Dance Group Helps Obese Kids Develop Healthy Lifestyle

Almost one-quarter of overweight and obese children at a suburban Detroit school resolved their weight problem through a recent Beaumont Weight Control Center program.

What made the difference? An in-school, 12-week program developed and delivered by the Beaumont Healthy Kids Program and the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble. The program included interactive educational sessions with a registered dietitian and bi-weekly physical activity led by creative movement dancers.

Dr. Wendy Miller, medical director of the Weight Control Center, will present the results May 27 in Seattle at a meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.

The physical activity sessions included reinforcement of healthy lifestyle habits. The majority of parents (74 percent) reported an increase in their child's physical activity level during the program.

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Seventy-seven children at a suburban Detroit school participated. Their average age was 9-1/2. About half were girls and about half were boys.

More than one-third of the children (38 percent) were either overweight or obese at the start of the program.

Follow-up surveys were completed after the 12-week intervention and follow-up BMI was measured one year after the baseline evaluation.

In addition to weight reduction and increased physical activity, there was significant improvement in post-program nutritional knowledge.

"Assessment of community interventions aimed at preventing and treating childhood obesity are greatly needed given the escalating prevalence of obesity," says Dr. Wendy Miller. "Successful interventions can, over time, be widely disseminated to halt or reverse current obesity."

She suggests that school offers a prime opportunity for such intervention. She cites the obvious example of physical education classes, and also suggests that nutrition information such as reading food labels, for example, could be integrated into science and math classes.