Smith 7, works out during Ricky Dickerson's fitness
class, July 14, 2014 at Memorial West Hospital in
Pembroke Pines, Fla., a boot camp for kids to help them
stay active and healthy.
as she heard the word "go," Ashley Jackson grabbed
her orange dumbbells, lifted them above her head and then
lowered them to her sides.
sound of the pulsating music, she continued with the dumbbells
until she heard Rickey Dickenson say "switch."
them down immediately and began jumping jacks.
who is only 10, is part of a Kidsí Boot Camp at Memorial
Hospital West, in Miami, a program aimed at getting kids in
shape at an early age.
Ashley, the 45-minute high-impact class gives her something to
do during the summer and helps her achieve her goal of being
able to wear her clothes comfortably.
have some clothes I stretch out," she said as she took a
water break. "Itís tiring, but itís fun."
Westís class is one of several programs offered through
hospitals to help children stay healthy through exercise and
proper eating. While Memorialís program is specifically
geared toward keeping children active, both the University of
Miami Miller School of Medicine and Miami Childrenís
Hospital offer comprehensive programs for children who are
obese or at-risk of becoming overweight.
is to encourage healthy eating and exercise as early as
possible to prevent health problems later on. They say parents
need to introduce fruits and vegetables and limit television
and computer time so it becomes part of a childís routine.
a serious problem and can only get worse," said Dr.
William Muinos, who heads the Weight Management Program at
Miami Childrenís Hospital. "Itís all about
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of
every three children is obese. The number has more than
doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past
30 years, the CDC reports.
sees about 30 children every Friday as part of the hospitalís
weight management program. Muinos works to create
individualized plans based on the age of the child and height
of the childís Body Mass Index. Growing children are placed
in a percentile based on their age and gender.
in extreme cases, he has worked with children who have had to
lose more than 100 pounds. While he works to get the children
to understand the importance of losing weight, he knows he
also has to make sure the family is on-board.
child can not do it by themselves," he said. "The
parent has to make the commitment."
starts by encouraging vegetables and reducing starchy food
from the childís diet. He also develops a
"doable," exercise plan that can be anything from
walking to going to the gym.
have to make sure itís something a child will stick
with," he said.
said most of the time getting a kid on track means changing
behavior completely. He said todayís world of fast food,
television and video games contributes to the
is a societal issue," he said.
Carlos Sanchez, the past two months have been a complete
change in lifestyle. He was referred to Muinos by his
pediatrician because the 14-year-old weighed nearly 250
pounds. He has already lost about 20 and is motivated to
continue down the right path.
feel much better about myself," said Sanchez, who lives
in Hialeah, Fla., and is going into the eighth grade. "I
have a lot more energy."
Mayelin Govea said she is very happy that doctor was able to
get her sonís weight under control.
didnít like fruit or salad," she said in Spanish.
"He didnít want to exercise."
takes him to the gym several times a week and he plays
basketball with his friends.
see a big change in him," she said.
Childrenís Hospital also has a 10-week program for
overweight Latin teen girls called Healthy Chicas. The
two-hour-long sessions include exercise and nutrition
education and cooking instruction. The sessions have an
adolescent medicine doctor and a nutritionist.
University of Miamiís Batchelor Childrenís Research
Institute, Dr. Tracie Miller screens children and then puts
them on a plan that includes healthy eating and exercise. She
starts by explaining how excess weight can affect each organ.
very important that understand what is going on in the
inside," she said. Children who are referred to the
program, dubbed Crunchtime, are monitored closely during the
children are given a bone density scan, put on a nutrition
plan and are given a comprehensive fitness evaluation. The
first three months are the strictest.
idea is to go hard and fast in the beginning," said
Miller. "Really the hardest part is just getting
end of the day, fun is key, said Miller.
exercise class at Memorial West, many of the children didnít
even realize how hard they were working.
who teaches the class, said he tries to make it like a club
with popular music and includes games so "they can be
kids." He creates a high-endurance and high-cardio class
by using hula hoops, sliders, weights and balls.
make it a rock star-type atmosphere and the kids get into
it," he said. "By the end of the class they are all
Espinal, 7, said when she is done she "feels good,"
worked hard," she said, her face red from the workout.
She likes the music and the games.
grandmother, Ana Espinal, who uses the gym every day, said
while her granddaughter is visiting her for the summer from
New York, she canít have her sitting around all day.
not good for her," she said. "She needs to get some
Linnea Martinez, the class is a a great outlet for her three
sons to get used to physical activity. Martinez said she is a
former ballerina and often goes to the gym.
want them to be strong and confident," she said of her
her three boys, who are 7, 9 and 10. "And they are boys,
they need to run off some of that energy."