Wednesday, October 16, 2013
When the 17-year-old came to us for help, he told us he weighed 400 pounds. He was wrong. That was just the maximum weight on the scale at his doctor’s office. A quick trip to a hospital told us he weighed 521. Their are sadly millions like him. The CDC tells us that 12.5 percent of adults under 20 - teenagers, are not just overweight they’re obese.
The direct medical costs related to obesity are $ 147 billion per year (2008). Almost three quarters of Americans are either overweight or obese. Nearly one in five children are clinically obese, and adult-onset diabetes is one of the biggest health problems among kids. In Charleston we are statistically at the national average: 38 percent of kids throughout the Lowcountry are also not just overweight. They are obese.
We have worked with kids who have increasingly gotten bigger over the last 12 years at Louie’s Kids. It’s estimated that over those many years we have assisted as many as 500 kids lose over 5,000 lbs.
But clearly, there is still a big problem.
Scientists tell us that 80 percent of obese children are likely to become obese adults. Sure, our health-care system can hold these people together — controlling their diabetes, replacing their knees and hips, holding down their blood pressure – but they will also be costing taxpayers a fortune.
I have also seen young people escape that destiny. I’m working with a young man who has lost about 70 pounds and is still dropping. He scored 1,486 on his SATs and is still in college. It looks as though his future will be bright. He has proved the stereotype wrong: He’s smart, capable and ready to empower himself. Kids like him deserve our attention – they are not disposable.
I am hoping our entire community will stand with me, as well as everyone in the health and wellness community, on Saturday, Nov. 9 at Joe Riley Park for the third annual Slim Down the South Celebrity Softball Game.
This game is about everyone who has invested their time and energies into helping kids realize their lives do not have to be plagued by disease. This game is about helping kids realize that being a person of size does not mean living with diabetes, heart disease and the dozens of other medical issues associated with obesity.
I am asking the mayors of both Charleston and North Charleston as well as the mayor-elect of Mount Pleasant to send a message to all the health and wellness programs in their cities, their respective city employees and staffs as well as to their business community partners to support this very important day at the Joe. And we invite them all to deliver the message the day by promoting their programs and initiatives for family health and wellness in the common area of the stadium.
When else this year will we all gather in such a enormous space with the potential of reaching thousands of people to let them know there are dozens of wellness options for them and their families all over their community. Perhaps we could put up a poster up at your place of business or perhaps we could encourage city businesses to use their street sign space to support SlimDowntheSouth.com 11/9 @ The Joe.
It’s time we all come together, collectively supporting the kids of the Lowcountry. I assure you the health and wellness initiatives in all of our cities will benefit with our support after this game. We will reinvest right in our communities and within programs like “Lighten Up Charleston.”
I appreciate your taking the time to read this letter, pass on the link and share this information www.slimdownthesouth.com we can make a difference in the life of a child #onechildatatime
Louis H. Yuhasz is the founder and CEO of Louie’s Kids. Reach him at P.O. Box 21291
Charleston, SC 29413 or 843-343 5746.