Deanna Horn is a third grader at Hillsdale Elementary School. Like many 8-year-olds, she enjoys reading books, helps take care of the family pets and her favorite subject in school is art.
While Deanna leads the life of an ordinary kid, a significant part of her daily routine is focused around losing weight and learning how to make healthy choices.
When Deanna was just 4 years old, she was already being treated for type 2 diabetes and her body mass index, or BMI, reached as high as 37 when it should be closer to 21.
Excessive weight is one of the most significant risk factors for type 2 diabetes, and BMI measures body fat based on height and weight. Since type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or managed through weight loss and increased physical activity, Deanna – and her family – made a commitment to do just that.
Deanna started to make an hour-long trip to Akron Children’s Hospital once a month for a 2-hour session with the hospital’s Weight Management Clinic. Working with a team of doctors, nurses, dietitians, exercise physiologists and psychologists, Deanna is learning how to live a healthier, more active life.
And she’s making great progress.
Incremental steps to weight loss success
So far, Deanna has brought her BMI down to 33.5 and she no longer needs medication to manage her blood sugar levels.
While she still has a long way to go to reach a desired BMI, Deanna says the progress she’s made since working with the clinic makes her “feel good” and motivates her to keep trying.
“Since we started, she has grown almost 2 inches taller and she looks thinner,” said her mom, Robin.
The importance of family support and household adjustments are stressed at the clinic. Deanna’s family limits junk food in the house and concentrates on portion control.
As part of her exercise plan, Deanna plays football in the yard with her dad and brother, and goes speed walking with her grandfather.
Deanna and her mom have set specific rewards for when she reaches her goals and follows her regimen.
If she sticks to her plan for 3 months, she’ll get a fun weekend or overnight trip to a water park.
“I love it when she makes her small steps in the right direction,” Robin said.
One day at a time, with one foot in front of the other, Deanna will meet her goals and earn herself that weekend at the water park.
Tips for getting moving
If you’re looking for ways to get your kids more active, Deanna shared some of her favorite physical activities:
- Playing various softball positions
- Playing goalie on her soccer team
- Obstacle courses in the yard
- Going on runs
- Jillian Michaels’ kickboxing DVD
Her dietitian and psychologist also provided the following tips:
- Use plain yogurt in your fruit smoothies instead of flavored mixes – it cuts the sugar and still tastes great!
- Watch portion sizes by using smaller dishes and measuring out food
- Motivate your child to want to reach his or her goals
- Create a rewards chart to increase motivation
- Encourage and praise goes a long way
- Work together to cook and try new, healthy foods
- Don’t expect perfection or instant success
The Akron Children’s Hospital Weight Management Clinic offers evaluation and treatment for children and teens 5 to 18 years of age who are overweight.