Weight control programs for kids

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Annie McCormick says when doctors kept mentioning her son Westley’s cholesterol levels, she knew it was in his best interest to lose a few pounds. However, she didn’t know how to break old habits.

"We needed the direction on what is healthier and what is not healthier,” she said.

McCormick quickly realized a new attitude about food wasn’t only Westley’s issue. As a parent, she had to take the lead.

“It’s not a diet… it’s a lifestyle. A lifestyle affects your whole home, your whole family -- it doesn’t just affect that one child,” she said.

For the last two years, McCormick and her family have been participating in the Brenner FIT (Families in Training) program at Wake Forest Baptist Health’s Brenner Children’s Hospital.

The program is designed to treat obesity in children ages 2 to 18.

“[We address] it in the most evidence-based way possible, which is bringing the entire family together to learn how to change their habits,” Dr. Joseph Skelton, director of Brenner FIT, said.

Brenner FIT offers family cooking classes and creative ways to stay active.

Fourteen-year-old Westley says he feels free since being a part of the program.

“I figured out I’m a lot better at sports than I used to be,” he said.

Dietitian Alice Smith leads Novant Health’s KidSmart program -- an initiative that works with community partners to teach families how to make healthy food and lifestyle choices.

Smith says sometimes the greatest challenge is parents who are in denial about their child being overweight.

“Parents think that they look like all their friends, it’s fine, but it really is dangerous,” Smith said.

To learn more about KidSmart visit www.kidsmartkid.org or call (336) 277-1891.

For more information on Brenner FIT at Brenner Children’s Hospital visit brennerchildrens.org.