Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Group Launches Teen-Led Obesity Prevention Movement

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Group Launches Teen-Led Obesity Prevention Movement

Article excerpt

When it comes to making healthy choices, teenagers don't always listen to the adults in their lives. That's why Dr. Jamie Jeffrey, a Charleston pediatrician and the director of KEYS 4 Healthy Kids, a Charleston-based organization intent on reversing childhood obesity trends in the state, decided to find a way to reach teenagers - by encouraging them to reach each other.

"When we were thinking about our long-term goals - one of the things I always say is, look at all the good things going on around gardening, around school menus, around standards, but I still see patients in my clinic who aren't benefiting from this. Why aren't we moving the needle to the point it needs to be moved? That's what we asked ourselves, Jeffrey said. "When did we make an impact with teens not smoking in West Virginia? It was with RAZE - it was when the kids got involved themselves.

Dewey Carruthers, a South Charleston native and the chief strategist of the youth anti-smoking campaign RAZE, has joined with KEYS and Healthy Kids, Inc. to develop a campaign for high schools that will encourage healthy eating.

The campaign, WV is FED UP, will mimic RAZE's "youth-created, youth-led and youth-spread message, and Carruthers said KEYS has already held several focus groups at area schools to determine what the movement will look like.

"It's my role to help these youth develop a movement, he said. "We're teaching them to be activists and advocates, and that's a big part of the campaign.

According to a report released by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, West Virginia has the second- highest adult obesity rate in the nation at 35.7 percent. According to a research report in Diabetes Care, people who consume sugary drinks regularly - one to two cans a day or more - have a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely consume such drinks.

One in six children and teens in the U.S. are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2012, teenagers had the highest rates of obesity among youth; more than 20 percent of 12 to 19 year olds were obese, compared to 8. …

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