The typical method used to help overweight teens lose weight is a combination of loving, personal nutrition education, and burning calories. This kind of intervention has been done for the last 5 years in various research institutes and many different programs around the country. The success of this approach has only been moderate, however, and that was the reason why researchers at Tufts were looking for a new strategy.
The education component is very helpful, and I wish I'd had this education when I was growing up. Every school should integrate nutritional education into their curriculum. Having the knowledge of which foods are good for me, which ones are higher in vitamins and fibers, and how many calories foods contain would have been a great tool for me growing up, and for everyone interested in better health and illness prevention.
Burning calories is a great principle as well, but when the children leave the programs we witness a big percentage of teens gain the weight back.
These programs had the right rules and knowledge, but they weren't teaching children how to conquer themselves and build discipline. It's like I always say, "You are your biggest enemy. If you can conquer yourself you can conquer anything."
About two year ago I was able to find a few people at Tufts, Michael Leidig, the clinical director for the Center for Youth and Wellness at Tufts Medical Center, and Meagher Susan, PHD., who felt the same way. We needed to add a third component to these programs: meditation and martial arts. We hoped it would make a difference and help children with the long term goal of losing weight through knowledge, burning calories, and strengthening the teens' decision center.
Through mediation and some martial arts training, the teens strengthen their will power and that leads to better decision making: especially when it comes to eating.
Read and enjoy this article about the program we are running in Maine. We are currently on the third month; the program will run for one year.