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Local Professor Says Vermont Teens Weighing Between 200 and 300 Pounds Necessitates Action on Obesity

by Tina Z. on Monday, April 28, 2014

AHA Board member Connie Tompkins is a professor of exercise science at the University of Vermont. Speaking at the American Heart Association's legislative reception in April, Tompkins urged legislators to act now to address childhood obesity because Vermont's children are getting heavier and this is leading to heavy adults and high health care costs.

Here's a portion of her remarks:

206.4

240.9

300.5

262.7.

These are a few of the most recent weights of 12, 13, and 14 year olds entering the REWARD Teens adolescent weight management program I conduct at the University of Vermont.

Right now, more than 1/3rd of kids and adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese. In fact, results from a study just recently released estimated the lifetime medical costs of childhood obesity to be $19,000 more than lifetime costs for healthy weight children. Even more astounding, taking only 10 year olds classified as obese right now, the researchers reported than the lifetime costs for this age group alone was approximately $14 billion. This is staggering because as children mature, their weight condition is a strong predictor of adult obesity as 80% of overweight 12-year olds will become obese adults.

And while the money and costs associated with obesity is important and certainly gets people’s attention, the desire to help and prevent childhood obesity should be about more than money. It should be about these kids – their health, well-being, self-esteem.

Tompkins urged legislators to support the AHA's recommendations to increased physical education in schools and provide schools with greater liability protection to encourage greater use of their facilities by communities for recreational purposes.

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