Arkansas Children's Hospital fighting childhood obesity with WHAM program

    3:57 PM, Jan 18, 2011   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Arkansas Children's Hospital has a free program for parents called WHAM!.

    WHAM! stands for Wellness, Health, Action and Motivation clinic.  The hospital's mission is to get kids back to doing what they do best; which is being a kid.  For many, that means lots of activity and play time. 

    With every repetition and each push, the WHAM! clinic is giving kids that extra drive to lose weight.  Arkansas Children's Hospital clinical dietician Beth Spillman explains, "The rise of childhood obesity in the last 30 years has more than tripled and increases diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea all kinds of disorders." 

    To help prevent those disorders from occurring, the hospital began the wellness program in hopes of reducing childhood obesity.  "The WHAM! program focuses on nutrition, physical activity and setting goals and motivation."; says Spillman.  A motivation that's desperately needed.  According to the latest statistics, close to an eighth of the state's children, between the ages of 2 and 5 are obese.  In helping kids and their parents make healthier food choices, they're learning the science behind some of their favorite foods.

    During one particular activity, the children are allowed to choose a variety of foods each of them are placed in a small, styrofoam container, with the listing of the food on the outside of the container.  Some of the choices are healthy, some not so healthy.  When the kids open up the container, a "paint like" substance is in each.  It represents the amount of fat in a particular food.  The dollup of paint appears small or large, depending on the fat makeup of that food.  The program aims to get kids and their parents to choose apple slices, instead of fries, go for water, over soda.  Spillman continues, "It's really important to get in there early, at an early age and work on those eating habits."

    In changing their eating habits and increasing their physical activity, the program is proving successful for all involved.  Spillman explains, "I get emails from kids and moms saying how much they enjoyed it. The kids are playing the games at home that we played. They are trying to look at a snack to see if it's the right portion."

    WHAM! begins with a 3 1/2-hour interactive group class on Saturday morning for the child/adolescent and parents. The class covers healthy eating, physical activity, motivation and goal setting and includes a healthy lunch. Upon completion of the class, the participants will be provided the information needed to schedule follow-up WHAM! appointments with a dietitian. Plus children can attend a weekly Saturday physical activity class in the ACH Fitness Center designed especially for our WHAM! participants. This class is FREE!

    Bi-monthly 15 minute WHAM! clinic appointments with an ACH Registered Dietitian will be scheduled for nutrition education, weight check, and goal setting.

    A fun class atmosphere will help participants learn necessary steps toward a healthy weight, plus frequent follow-up for education and motivation are critical for achieving a healthy lifestyle.

    You have to be referred to the program by your primary care physician.  To find out more about the program call 501-364-4000, choose option 5.

    Upcoming dates:

    Time: 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

    November 6, 2010
    January 8, 2011
    February 19, 2011
    April 2, 2011
    May 7, 2011
    July 23, 2011
    August 27, 2011
    October 1, 2011
    November 12, 2011
    January 7, 2012


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