For Americans to get slimmer, we will have to change our ways

'Fatty, Fatty, Two by four

Can't fit through the kitchen door!'

When I was a kid, that was a taunt we sang out to the chubby kids. It was mean and cruel, of course. The poor kids knew they were overweight, why torment them?

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to recognize but most difficult to treat. A child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of being an obese adult.

We know obesity can be caused or related to many factors, including poor eating habits, lack of exercise, stress, family history, family or peer problems, low self esteem and depression. And the risks and complications of obesity are no secret either: Increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing problems, trouble sleeping and emotional problems are among them.

Today, 23 million children in the United States are obese or overweight - not quite hefty enough to qualify as obese, but 'tubby' enough to get ridiculed at school and on the playground.

They know they are fat and it hurts. Dr. Cynthia Gulick of Oregon Medical Weight Loss says that the quality of life for overweight children is less than that of kids with cancer.

Ouch. That's pretty bad - and sad, isn't it?

For years we have all been told to lose weight by increasing exercise and reducing food intake. Have you noticed the obesity levels in all population segments of our country have continued to increase under that advice? We can't expect to get different result by following the same regime.

If we want to see our nation become slimmer, we are going to have to change something.

Gulick has an approach that just might be the ticket for improving the health of the whole family. A board-certified bariatric (obesity medicine) physician for the past six years, she was a family practitioner for 20 years before that. She would tell patients to lose weight, encouraging them to get more exercise and eat less. And she shared their frustration when the desired results weren't achieved. So she went back to school to learn more about bariatric medicine, became board certified and has developed a program to help people of all ages achieve a healthy weight. The program, called the Healthy Weight and Lifetyle program, involves giving participants nutritional information, help with making behavioral and lifestyle choice modifications, exercise and medical supervision.

She likens her efforts to turn the tide on obesity to those used to get Americans to kick the smoking habit.

'Remember when everyone was encouraged to stop smoking?' she said. 'Everybody smoked. The government gave servicemen two packs a day in their rations just to keep them quiet and occupied. We need to get everyone on board with making changes to their diet. We (in the medical field) need to use that same approach to turn the tide on solving the obesity problem.'

Gulick is now offering the program to the public through Lake Oswego School District's Community School. Registrations are being taken for the course on the Community School website,; there select Fitness and the appropriate age group.

Participants in the Healthy Weight and Lifestyle program are separated into age groups (8 to 12 year olds, who must be accompanied by a parent or guardian) and teenagers 13 to 18.

Program participants begin with a medical intake office visit to determine their healthfulness. Then for the next eight weeks, they attend sessions where they learn to make behavioral and healthy lifestyle changes, participate in physical activities and learn about nutrition.

All programs are tailored to the individual.

Parents of the younger group meet weekly to learn about nutrition; parents of teens meet every other week to gain the knowledge. Gulick and her staff of experts in fitness, motivation and nutrition encourage the children and teens to get healthy and smarter about nutrition.

Cost of the eight-week program is $129 for the family. The fees involved may be billed to medical insurance. Parents and siblings are welcome to attend group sessions, which are held at OMWL offices in the Southwest Family Physicians office, 11900 S.W. Greenburg Road, Tigard.

'Family support is a huge key to success,' Gulick said. 'Knowledge is power. We will empower your child to get healthier and maintain a healthy lifestyle now and into the future.'

Gulick walks the talk. She is generous with her knowledge and time and sincerely interested in helping people become healthy and happy.

If you'd like to learn more about the program visit the website or call the office at 503-LOSE-NOW (567-3669).

To give you a nudge on how you might be eating, OMLW registered dietician Kristin Davis shared these recipes. Give them a try!

Bon Appetit! Eat something wonderful for you!

A New Style

Shepherd's Pie

Makes 6 servings

Each serving has 290 calories, 17 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber. This can be cooked in a skillet on the stovetop or in an electric skillet.

1 head cauliflower

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pound ground grass-fed beef or bison

1 cup frozen organic peas and carrots, thawed

1 cup frozen organic green beans, thawed

1 tablespoon coconut flour or almond flour

¾ cup beef stock or broth

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Cut the cauliflower into small pieces and put it in the microwave to steam, about 4 minutes. Put the cauliflower into a tall mixing bowl and use a hand immersion blender to create mashed cauliflower.

Cut the onion into small, diced pieces. Heat electrical skillet to a medium heat, or if using a skillet on the stovetop, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Put onion and ground meat together in a skillet and brown the meat. When meat is no longer pink, add the thawed vegetables and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut flour, add broth and herbs and reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the cauliflower over the top of the meat vegetable mixture. Scatter butter over top of cauliflower.

Cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes with lid slightly askew.

Adapted from Primal Blueprint Reader Created Cookbook

Omelet Muffins

Makes 6 servings

Each serving has 160 calories, 10 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber

6 eggs

¼ to ½ cup cooked meat, cut or crumbled into small pieces

½ cup diced vegetables

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease six muffins tins.

In a bowl, beat the eggs. Add meat, vegetables, salt, pepper and any other ingredients and stir to combine.

Spoon or scoop egg mixture into the muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until a knife inserted into the center of an omelet comes out clean. The omelets will continue to cook for a minute or two after removed from the oven.

Remove the omelets from the muffin cups and serve, or cool completely and store for another day.

Cook's notes: Make Mexican omelet muffins by adding ¼ cup shredded cheese, onions and lightly drained salsa to the eggs.

Adapted from Primal Blueprint Reader Created Cookbook

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 101 or by email at bran

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