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Obesity programs: do they work?

 
   The nation's childhood obesity rate has nearly doubled since 1980, and obese children and teenagers today are developing diseases formerly only seen in adults, such as type 2 diabetes.

   It's a growing epidemic in which American adults are getting fatter from unhealthy diets and lack of exercise, and their young ones are waddling in their footsteps.

   To reverse the trend, increasing attention here and across the U.S. is being paid to schools.

   Schools are where children spend a large part of their waking hours and consume a large portion of their daily calories.

  In the Buffalo-Niagara region, for instance, Independent Health recently announced a school-based obesity program. Later this month, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Western New York is expected to introduce a school-based fitness program in collaboration with the Buffalo Bills. Those organizations join an existing program operated by Univera Healthcare.

   Still, it's not clear if such programs here and elsewhere across the U.S. work or are cost-effective. One of the problems with many of the programs is that there are few, if any, measurements to gauge success.

-- Henry L. Davis 

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