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Floating Hospital for Children, the Greater Lowell Family YMCA and Lowell General Hospital team up to tackle youth obesity

08/16/2011

Program provides teens with the knowledge, confidence and motivation to take control of their weight problems

LOWELL –  Boston’s Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, the Greater Lowell Family YMCA and Lowell General Hospital are joining forces to offer a ten-week weight management program which relies on a fresh, unique approach to nutrition and physical activity for overweight teens in the Lowell area. With one of the highest youth obesity rates in the state--nearly 38%--the city of Lowell, and its younger generation, stand to benefit greatly from this collaborative effort.

“Teens want to feel respected and believe that they have some control over decisions that they make - particularly concerning food,” said Michael Leidig, RD, Clinical Director of the Center for Youth Wellness at Floating Hospital.  “This isn’t about going on a diet; we aim to educate teens so they feel empowered to improve their own health by making the necessary changes and adjustments to their lifestyle.”

The partnership unites the resources of Floating Hospital’s Center for Youth Wellness and the Lowell YMCA.  The Center for Youth Wellness provides resources to help 11 to 18 year-olds to work toward a healthy weight with the help of a physician, psychologist and dietitian.  The Center offers group nutrition education, which facilitates social interaction while giving teens the knowledge and confidence they need to be proactive in taking control of their eating.  The Y will provide space, equipment, and staffing to offer overweight teenagers a comfortable, non-judgmental and safe environment where they can enjoy being active and feel good about themselves. Participants are introduced to strength and cardio equipment as well as yoga, aerobics classes, and fun games. 

“Incorporating physical activity into a weekly routine is a critical factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” said Kevin Morrissey, Director of Operations for the Greater Lowell Family YMCA.  “The Lowell YMCA is extremely proud to be involved with this program and do our part towards combating obesity in Greater Lowell area teens.”

“Offering specialized pediatric health resources to Greater Lowell is at the heart of the relationship between Lowell General Hospital and Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center,” said Amy Hoey, Vice President of Patient Care Services at Lowell General Hospital. “We expect that participants in the innovative, clinically-based Youth Wellness program will have the same kind of positive experience as with the Specialty Care Clinics we offer in collaboration with Floating Hospital. Just as our young patients receive specialty care for heart, lung, or digestive conditions, they can rely on the same for weight issues with this innovative program.”

The program was developed in 2010, when Floating Hospital and the Wang YMCA of Chinatown in Boston agreed to work together to find a new way to address the childhood obesity epidemic. To be eligible for the program, youths must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than the 95th percentile for their age or above the 85th percentile with another medical problem, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol.  For example, a five-foot-tall, 15-year old boy weighing 138 pounds or girl weighing 144 pounds would qualify for the program.  To calculate one’s BMI, visit apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi.

After a preliminary assessment with Floating Hospital staff in Boston, the teen is cleared to begin the ten-week program in Lowell: two hours, every Friday, with one hour focused on nutrition education and the second hour devoted to physical activity.  After the program concludes, there are three-month and one-year scheduled follow-up visits with Floating Hospital staff to encourage participants to continue with their healthier habits.  The program enjoyed so much early success in its first year in Boston, that Floating Hospital and Lowell General Hospital clinicians wanted to extend its lessons and benefits to the Lowell community. 

The bulk of the program, including the nutrition and physical activity sessions, is provided to participants free of charge thanks to the generosity of the Lowell YMCA, as well as philanthropic funding to the Center for Youth Wellness.  In addition, teens get a 10-week Y membership, and an additional free month if they have perfect attendance over the course of the program.

Information sessions to discuss details of the program will be held on August 17 and September 21 from 6:00-7:00 PM at Lowell General Hospital.  Individual 90-minute assessments will take place in the fall, with the ten-week group program beginning in January, 2012.  For more information, about the Center for Youth Wellness please call 617-636-3381 or visit www.floatinghospital.org/cyw.

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About Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children

Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 415-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Floating Hospital for Children. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. Floating Hospital for Children is the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Medical Center is affiliated with the New England Quality Care Alliance, a network of more than 1,800 physicians throughout Eastern Massachusetts. For more information, please visit www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org.

Media Contact:
Jeremy Lechan
(617) 636-0104
jlechan@tuftsmedicalcenter.org