Program at Coastal Middle School fighting childhood obesity

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Students a Coastal Middle School now have a program aimed at helping students learning a healthy living at their disposal.

Childhood Obesity Prevention and Education, a local Savannah nonprofit organization is behind the program, which is called LEAN Kids COPE. The program is the first of its kind offering nutrition education, fitness and behavioral health in an attempt to help students live a healthy life free from obesity, inactivity or disordered eating.

Students who participate in the program meet three days a week for two and a half hours after school for a duration of 16 weeks. Parents attend a total of six one-hour sessions during the programs learning the same nutrition students learn in order to better support them at home.

Program workshops are taught by certified LEAN coaches. COPE has the only certified coach in the Savannah area.

Students meet with a personal trainer and exercise specialist each day for an hour. Group behavioral counseling also takes place once a week by a licensed counselor. Nutrition education and other behavioral health notes are taught twice a week. Nutritious snacks are made each day of the program.

"Attempts at combating childhood obesity often involve nutrition and physical activity but unless the unhealthy habits and food behaviors are changed there will be no lasting results."  said COPE founding director, Sandy Baker, in a press release.

"We use cognitive behavioral therapy so students understand why they develop poor habits and what they can do to replace them with healthy life skills while they are young enough to escape a lifetime of obesity.  Seventy percent of obese children become obese adults.  The number one reason adults do not overcome obesity is emotional or comfort eating.  COPE offers an innovative program to make serious changes in the obesity epidemic. "

The current LEAN Kids COPE session runs through Jan. 26, 2012 and another will begin on Jan. 30, 2012 at Coastal Middle School. To register for the next session or to find out how the program can be brought to another school visit the COPE website by clicking here or contact Sandy Baker at sbaker@copeforchange.org

Copyright 2011 WTOC. All rights reserved.