Helping Kids Battle Obesity

While North Carolina faces a major childhood obesity problem, there are programs in eastern Carolina that are reaching out to children to help them lead more healthy and active lives.

Marcus McNeil, 16 years-old, is one of thousands of kids in eastern Carolina dealing with a weight issue. He knows it's serious, and health experts agree.

According to one survey, one in three children in North Carolina is obese. Our state is ranked 14th in the nation for childhood obesity rates. Kids in rural areas are at higher risk.

Dr. David Collier, an ECU healthy lifestyle expert, says many kids and parents don't understand the extent of the problem. "Until you really work with it closely and really see the statistics, see the kids that are home bound because they can't get around at school because their so overweight, because they're being teased, sleep apnea, type two diabetes"

The excess weight doesn't only hurt the child--- it's costly. Dr. Collier says, "An obese child cost Medicaid about 3 to 4 times as much as a non obese child...that's a huge burden in our region"

It's a burden that East Carolina University, NC State and the 4-H Center are trying to lift. with a three-week long camp in Tyrrell County to teach kids how to eat healthy and exercise.

McNeil says, "If you learn a healthy way it can turn you whole life around." Marcus and other campers learn about portion control--they eat less of the burgers and fries, and try to eat more fruits and veggies. Plus, they are physically active. "I like the climbing wall and pool," says Marcus.

Camp director, Lee Scripture, hopes the kids hold on to their knowledge and pass it on to their parents and peers. "The quicker we can address obesity and help people change their life the quicker you're going to try to do things to avoid having those diseases"

If your child suffers with obesity, ECU's Brody School of Medicine does have a website to help give you nutritional information. You can click on the link below for that information.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by McArthur Park on Aug 15, 2009 at 07:25 PM
    O.K. fellow North Carolinian taxpayers, put your hands on your wallets. The feelers are out to see if there are any objections to another social program being hoisted onto the backs of the taxpayers. Wait for it!! You will notice that the spokesman cited in the article states that obese children are a drain on the MEDICAID system! Enough said.
  • by Garth Location: Wayne's World on Aug 13, 2009 at 09:43 PM
    But I like fat chicks, lol. No but seriously, it starts at home. Parents don't spend enough time in their children's development, sitting them in front of the great babysitter (aka TV) watching Sponge Bob with a big bag of Doritos in their hands just because they don't have the time to deal with their kids themselves.
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane on Aug 13, 2009 at 07:23 PM
    This is another one of those things that begin at home. Schools can play an important part by having one hour gym classes that would include running, jumping, rope skipping, tumbling, or other sports. When I go to the gym I only work out for an hour every other day. But in the end it all begins at home.
  • by DISGRUNTLED TAX PAYER Location: AYDEN, NC on Aug 13, 2009 at 05:53 PM
    THEY HAVE PROGRAMS TO HELP CHILDREN LOSE WEIGHT, LIKE PICKING UP THE CHILDREN WHO RIDE BUSSES AT THEIR DOOR STEP, AND THEN THEY (THE BOARD OF EDUCATION FOR PITT COUNTY)ARE REMOVING PHYSICAL EDUCATION FROM THE CIRRICULUM. SOME PROGRAMS TO HELP CHILDREN TO INCREASE THE PHYSICAL FITNESS LEVEL AND DECREASE THE OBESITY PERCENTAGE OF THE YOUNGER GENERATION.
  • by teacher1 on Aug 13, 2009 at 02:27 PM
    Parents: Insist that your children's school get rid of vending machines. I see kids crawl over themselves during lunch to eat nothing but junk food. I've seen kids eat $5 worth of ice cream sandwiches rather eat a decent lunch. These vending machines need to go.
  • by Abbi Location: Atlantic Beach on Aug 13, 2009 at 02:14 PM
    I have noticed at the pool/beach this summer that there are more 'chunky' kids than thin kids swimming. Also more women who should be in a 1 piece in 2 pieces. I guess it is becoming more socially acceptable.
  • by J Location: Gville on Aug 13, 2009 at 01:50 PM
    Yeah instead of cookies or chocolate or candy for a snack, give your kid a carrot!! Make them go outside instead of playing viedo games!! EASY and FREE fix.
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