Childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic across the country and Tucson is no exception. Local pediatricians say with overeating and lack of exercises kids are doing damage to their bodies that in some cases can never be undone.
We are talking about an entire generation of kids, that because of their weight, won't outlive their parents. Health problems due to obesity cost us $150 billion nationwide every year.
One local pediatrician said 10 years ago it was bizarre to test a child for diabetes, now they do it multiple times a day.
10-year-old Roman Lucero has been a patient of Dr. Jessica Schlutz his whole life. To see him now you wouldn't know that he was almost a statistic. In Pima County 30 percent of children are overweight or obese.
"Some of the schools they actually find higher numbers so more like 40 percent of kids are overweight or obese so it's a significant problem," said Dr. Jessica Schultz.
Roman is the eldest of four kids and they have a lot going on, but when they heard about Roman's weight gain the family took action.
"We search for things to keep us motivated to keep us going, to continue to eat healthy to work out, and I mean it's work," Alfonso Lucero, Roman's father said.
The work has paid off. Roman is down nearly ten pounds, dad is down 30. The other children are also seeing the benefits.
Dr. Schultz says kids as young as three of all economic backgrounds show the warning signs to weight related illnesses like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease.
"Teenagers that are so heavy that our scales don't go high enough to weight them so I honestly don't know how much they weigh," she said.
The scales in her office reach 400 pounds. Seeing this day in and day out has pushed Dr. Schlutz to make changes in Tucson as the executive director for the Grow to Be Fit program.
With grant money she has started a pilot project to provide free cooking and healthy lifestyle classes for kids. Held Saturdays, kids and their parents learn recipes like this, a healthy take on the pumpkin cookie.
It's something Roman and his family have been taking part in. "The things that we learn in the class with grow to be fit we take them home and they are still interested so we supervise them and let them cook," he said.
Schultz says making small changes like getting rid of surgery drinks and juices, watching your portion sizes and exercise every once in a while will dramatically improve the lives of you and your children.
"I just want parents and the community to really start thinking about this, it's the biggest health problem facing our children if we don't as a society step up and start making changes I think we will look back and regret it," said Schultz.
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