Weight management program addresses childhood obesity
From Spotlight on Health Nov./Dec. 2006
Eight-year-old Marshall Muehlbauer of St. Cloud reads the lunch menu every morning before school and decides if he should bring his own lunch.
Although many children choose to bring their own lunch because they don’t like the menu choices, Marshall has learned to make this choice based on the nutritional value of the options versus whether he likes them or not.
Marshall and his family have participated in the Shapedown program, CentraCare’s weight management program for children and teens. Since starting the program in January 2006, Marshall has lost more than 20 pounds.
“Shapedown really brought the package together,” said Chuck Muehlbauer, Marshall’s dad. “We learned about food intake, exercise output and the emotional aspect - what drives us to eat.”
Marshall isn’t the only one who benefited from the program. Although Chuck and his wife Roxanne had previously started their own weight loss plan, Shapedown is designed to educate the entire family.
Marshall Muehlbauer enjoys exercising
at the St. Cloud Area YMCA.
“We’ve really learned a lot about reading labels and watching portion sizes,” Chuck added. “And now instead of sitting down and watching TV, we’ll all go to the YMCA, go skating or take a family walk.” They’ve also noticed a difference in Marshall’s self esteem, confidence and behavior.
“Of course, he still fights with his twin brother Matthew, but the aggressive behavior has reduced,” joked Chuck.
In an effort to help Marshall understand the effects of unhealthy eating, the Muehlbauer’s graph his weight on a chart to help him understand it better.
“We still enjoy the ‘nasty’ food events, such as birthdays, camping and holidays, but when Marshall sees a spike in his weight graph, he knows the line can be corrected in a short period of time by returning to healthy eating and exercise habits.” Chuck said.
Shapedown also helps parents feel better about parenting and their child. It helps them to let go of guilt, fear and frustration about their child’s weight and make positive changes in family lifestyle and communication.
In addition, Shapedown allows both parents and children the opportunity to network with other families in a similar situation.
“It is a wonderful, big support group,” Chuck added.
Although childhood obesity has increased 54 percent in the last 20 years, it is highly treatable.
CentraCare Health System offers Shapedown, the nation’s leading weight management program that has helped 100,000 children and teens. Studies show children and adolescents can successfully lose weight with a family-based approach.
Throughout the year, CentraCare Health System will offer Shapedown to three age groups: 6 to 9 year olds, 10 to 12 year olds and 13 to 16 year olds.
The 10-week course addresses weight, self-esteem, body image, diet and exercise. Shapedown promotes successive, small changes in behavior to create a new lifestyle.
A physician’s referral is needed to begin Shapedown.
The program helps children and teens create an active and full life, making food and television less important. Their self-esteem will improve, and they will feel better about their bodies. They will feel more comfortable in physical education and sports. And finally, they will learn strategies to stop kids from teasing them.
To register or for more information, call Liz Haag, R.D., Shapedown coordinator, at the St. Cloud Hospital Child & Adolescent Specialty Center, CentraCare Health Plaza, (320) 251-2700, ext. 54631.