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Turning the Tables

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 24, 2013 | Go to article overview

Turning the Tables


Byline: Susan Dibble sdibble@dailyherald.com By Susan Dibble sdibble@dailyherald.com

Naperville resident Stephanie Hough estimates that her son Jack Maring was 60 pounds overweight when she enrolled him in ProActive Kids last fall.

Fearing that her then 8-year-old boy was at risk for developing diabetes, she had tried everything from having him work out with a personal trainer to meeting with a dietitian.

Nothing had made a significance difference.

So when a doctor recommended [URL]ProActive Kids;http://proactivekids.org/[/URL], an eight-week program for children struggling with unhealthy weight, she admits she wondered whether it would change anything.

"I was skeptical going in because we had tried so much," she said. "We walked out feeling, 'This is it. This is going to work.'"

It did work. During the eight weeks of ProActive that Jack attended at [URL]Edward Health and Fitness Center;http://www.edward.org/Fitness[/URL] at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, Jack lost eight pounds, decreased his body mass index by 6.4, learned to make healthy food choices and grew in self-confidence. Since then, he has continued to lose weight and has more energy and stamina, Hough said.

"We signed up to do it again," she said. "We enjoyed it so much and it was such a great thing,"

The next sessions of ProActive run Jan. 28 to March 22 at Edward Health and Fitness Center in Woodridge, [URL]Wheaton Community Center;http://www.wheatonparkdistrict.com/pgs/parks/comm_center/commcen ter.html[/URL], New Life Bilingual Church in West Chicago and [URL]Advocate Children's Hospital;http://www.advocatehealth.com/hope/[/URL] in Oak Lawn. Discussions are under way for a fifth site in Downers Grove. Each site can enroll a maximum of 20 children.

Children ages 8 to 14 attend sessions from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays that address nutrition, fitness and lifestyle. They learn to identify the reasons they eat when they are not hungry and develop other coping mechanisms. On Friday Family Day, any family member ages 3 and older is encouraged to participate from 4 to 6 p.m.

The free program is for children considered obese or at risk for obesity, with a body mass index in the 85 percentile or above. Families are asked to get a referral from a physician. ProActive offers three sessions a year at its different locations.

"Our goal is sustainable health," said Nicki Klinkhamer, ProActive's executive director.

About 200 kids have gone through the program so far with promising results, but Klinkhamer said the real test will be in the long-term.

"This is just the beginning. It's once you leave here," she said.

Wholistic approach

ProActive was started in 2009 by Klinkhamer's husband, Wheaton resident Tony Burke, who was obese as a child. Put together by professionals in the fields of fitness, nutrition and the psychological aspects of lifestyle, the program was run by volunteers for the first year and a half.

It became part of [URL]FORWARD;[/URL], Fighting Obesity Reaching Healthy Weight Among Residents of DuPage, a coalition of health care providers, schools, businesses, park districts, and other organizations and individuals working together to address the problem of obesity in DuPage County.

Seeing that ProActive was taking a hands-on approach, Cadence Health, the owner of Central DuPage and Delnor hospitals, became the sponsor of the Wheaton site in early 2011.

Tammy Pressley, director of community, government and public affairs for Cadence, said a health needs assessment the organization conducts every three years indicated that fighting obesity should be a priority because of its relationship to a host of other health issues.

Cadence also was interested in eliminating the economic barriers that keep some families from enrolling in fitness and nutrition programs, she said.

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