A treadmill saved David Duran's life, so did weights and extra exercise. Two years ago, at 12 years old and weighing 187 pounds, doctors told David he was way too heavy.
"It was just this much more to go and then I would have been diabetic," David Duran TEENS Program graduate, told Ivanhoe.
20 percent of all youngsters in the U.S. are obese, and two-thirds will become obese adults, which may lead to hypertension, stroke and diabetes.
"It was just the fear of diabetes," David Duran said. "I didn't even know what it was but I knew it wasn't good."
"It's important to focus on changing that behavior," Daphne Bryan, M.D., at Virginia Commonwealth University, explained.
Doctor Daphne Bryan runs their novel TEENS program. At-risk kids, like David and their families, meet with nutritionists and exercise scientists for two years. Doctors say whole family education boosts immersion and drives home key lessons on health.
"The activity's just not there anymore, there's more screen-time than running, and playing time," Dr. Bryan said.
To date, all graduates have lowered their cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Nationally, studies show 73 percent of similar programs have positive results.
" I started coming in, and it was like hey I lost a pound. Next day it was like hey, I lost another one," Melitza Duran, David's sister and TEENS Program graduate, said.
David's sister Melitza went from 216 pounds to 184 in two years.
"Feels like you can just take on the world, anything," David Duran said.
David himself lost 47 pounds, and staved-off diabetes. He hopes this country's youngsters are paying attention. Programs like this are slowly taking root at universities across the country. All students in the VCU program are referred by local pediatricians.
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