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Weight Gain Prevention in Children

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, one of my great passions as a Senator has been advocating for children and advancing initiatives that improve their health and welfare. I wish to share with my colleagues the results of a new study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, which reports on two simple steps that can be taken to counter a serious health crisis among America's youth.

The crisis is obesity among all ages and most seriously among children. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported last month that one-third of all children in the United States are either overweight or dangerously close to becoming so and, as a result, are at increased risk of becoming obese adults and developing diabetes and other health problems.

A new ``America on the Move Family Study,'' presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, April 30, 2006, provides the first clinical evidence that overweight children can effectively prevent additional weight gain by making small changes to their daily lifestyle. The study was conducted by the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, the primary research arm for America On the Move Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals and communities across the country improve health and quality of life. This study was designed to evaluate whether overweight children could reduce their risk of gaining additional weight through a combination of increasing physical activity and eliminating 100 calories a day from their diet.

In the study, investigators randomized 216 families with at least 1 overweight child to either a lifestyle intervention group or a control group. Families in the intervention group were asked to eliminate 100 calories a day from their diet by emphasizing a reduction of dietary sugar and an increase in physical activity by 2,000 steps daily. Families in the control groups were asked to monitor their diet and exercise levels. After 6 months, significantly more overweight children in the intervention group maintained or reduced their percent body mass index, BMI, compared to the self-monitoring group, 67 percent versus 53 percent.

The results of this study are striking. By taking two simple, common sense steps--engaging in more physical activity and reducing caloric intake by small amounts--families can help their children control weight gain and reduce obesity. Such steps can have an enormous impact on their health. I applaud this study for bringing this important message to the public's attention.

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