Worrisome Increase in Fatty Liver Disease in Children Shows Need for Effective Long-Term Weight Control Programs

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Healthy Living Academies Programs Provide Hope for Thousands of At-Risk Children

and mostly relate to the long-term effectiveness of the program.

A study by University of California San Diego researchers has revealed that nearly 10% of children between the ages of 2 and 19 have fatty liver, a condition resulting from overweight and obesity and one that portends future liver disease.

Dr. Jeffrey Schwimmer, director of the Fatty Liver Clinic at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, and an associate professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego, was lead author of the study. Fatty liver is "the most common serious complication of childhood obesity," Schwimmer says. In adults, fatty livers result in diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, and end-stage liver disease. Fatty liver is highly correlated to overweight and obesity in children. According to the UC San Diego study, 80% of children with fatty liver are obese or overweight. Nearly 40% of obese children have fatty livers.

Researchers are in agreement that the best way to address fatty liver in children and prevent serious medical issues later in life is long-term weight control. According to Dr. Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, a professor at Northwestern University Medical School and clinical director of Healthy Living Academies, the largest organization of weight loss programs for children, adolescents and young adults, most overweight children benefit from a professional weight management program.

How should doctors and families select the right program for their child? "The questions are simple," said Dr. Kirschenbaum, "and mostly relate to the long-term effectiveness of the program."

1. What is the average weekly weight loss during the program?
2. What is the program's long-term results? What percentage of children maintain or continue weight loss at home?
3. Who designed the program? What are their credentials? Is the program design scientifically based?
4. Is counseling or behavior modification offered? By credentialed therapists?
5. If so, does each child have an individual therapist assigned to him or her? Do therapists continue to work with children in an after-care program?
6. How are families involved?
7. Does the program demonstrate improvements in emotional functioning and overall well-being?

"Healthy Living Academies programs, including Academy of the Sierras boarding schools and Wellspring summer weight loss camps, focus not just on weight loss through diet and activity management, but also address the psychological and emotional issues that often prevent successful weight loss by sustaining problematic eating and inactivity," said Dr. Kirschenbaum.

"Through a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, an introduction to healthy eating habits, and daily activities, children who attend Healthy Living Academies programs can expect to lose three to four pounds per week while enrolled, and many continue to lose weight after returning home and over the next year."

Healthy Living Academies is the leading organization of treatment programs for pediatric and adolescent obesity. Healthy Living Academies programs include Academy of the Sierras California, Academy of the Sierras North Carolina, Wellspring New York, Wellspring Adventure Camp, Wellspring Adventure Camp California, Wellspring Texas, Wellspring Hawaii, Wellspring Family Camp in Michigan, and Wellspring UK. To learn more about Academy of the Sierras, Wellspring Camps or Healthy Living Academies, visit http://www.healthylivingacademies.com or call 866-364-0808.

Healthy Living Academies is a division of Aspen Education Group, the nation's leading provider of education programs for struggling or underachieving young people. With over 30 programs in 12 states and the United Kingdom, Aspen provides a comprehensive range of therapeutic interventions, including boarding schools, residential treatment and wilderness therapy. Aspen Education Group is a division of CRC Health Group, the nation's largest chemical dependency and related behavioral health organization. For more information, visit http://www.aspeneducation.com or call 888-972-7736.

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