A Patient Story: Childhood Obesity

Michael came to see me with a sore throat. But I became concerned about some larger health issues. After treating his sore throat, I talked to him and his parents about the biggest threat to Michael’s health—his weight.

Although Michael was only 14 years old and 4’10” tall, he already weighed 143 pounds. You could see the extra weight around his belly. His body mass index (BMI) was 30, which is in the obese range.

During our talk, I learned that Michael wasn’t physically active. He spent six to eight hours daily on the computer, watching television, playing video games, or talking on his cell phone. His fasting blood sugar (glucose) test showed a high sugar level of 115, which meant he was pre-diabetic. I recommended that Michael’s parents help him reduce weight. I helped him improve his diet by teaching him about nutrition and healthy eating habits. I also urged his parents to increase his vigorous physical activity by 45 to 60 minutes for five or six days each week.

This story has a great ending because Michael and his parents took action. They cut back on fast food and sodas, which limited carbohydrates and saturated fats in his diet. When he returned one month later, the results were dramatic. Michael had lost eight pounds.

Michael’s modest weight loss significantly reduced his risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. His new blood glucose level fell within the normal range. He looked and felt much better. I congratulated Michael for his great work, and I encourage others to follow his healthy lifestyle example.

Christopher F. Hannum, MD
Obesity Specialist, Chester, PA
Member, Pennsylvania Medical Society