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For Your Well Being: Tuning In To Teens

September 7, 2006, Vol. IV Issue 17

Dear Friends,

It was impossible to miss the front page headline in my newspaper last week: “We’re Living Large in U.S.,” accompanied by a huge map of the obesity rates across the United States. In a two-year period, the obesity rate has increased in 31 states and is unchanged elsewhere, according to the new report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing America 2006.”

It was conducted by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Duke Endowment. The trust is an advocacy group that promotes increased funding for public health programs.

While obesity doesn’t seem to favor either sex or any age group, one group that has been highly overlooked when it comes weight is teens. Not any more. Anne M. Fletcher, MS, RD, LD, has written a new book, Weight Loss Confidential: How Teens Lose Weight and Keep It Off – and What They Wish Parents Knew, due in bookstores January, 2007.

You get a preview today right here in For Your Well Being.

Anne M. Fletcher, MS, RD, LD

Weight Loss Confidential Focuses on Teens’ Success Stories

Anne Fletcher, MS, RD, LDAnne M. Fletcher, MS, RD, LD is an award-winning health and medical journalist who is frequently consulted for her knowledge about and creative solutions for weight management, behavior change, and addiction. Anne is the author of the national bestsellers Thin For Life, Sober for Good, and Eating Thin for Life, as well as the Thin for Life Daybook. Her forthcoming book, Weight Loss Confidential: How Teens Lose Weight and Keep It Off — and What They Wish Parents Knew (Houghton Mifflin, January 2007), is already attracting national media attention. She will appear on the “Today Show” in early January.

“It’s a controversial topic,” Anne says. “There are those who think we shouldn’t talk about weight loss for teens. Although we need to continue to work on changing the stigma with being overweight, we can’t afford to ignore the very real problems of overweight teens or what the teens who have succeeded at weight loss have to say.”

In the United States, 1 out of 3 children and adolescents age two through nineteen is overweight or at risk for being overweight. Although some children do outgrow their weight problems, most do not. Several studies suggest up to 8 out of 10 overweight teens will become obese adults.

“Over and over, we keep hearing that obesity rates are skyrocketing,” Anne said. “But as this new TFAH report stresses, we’re not being offered good solutions. For my book on healthy teen weight management, I reviewed the scientific literature on treating overweight young people and was appalled at the dearth of research in this area, not to mention lack of effective solutions.

“I decided to offer some solutions by going to more than 100 formerly overweight teens (and many of their parents) who lost weight and kept it off. What they have to say is informative and eye-opening. The good news is that there are people who succeed at losing weight and keeping it off. Not only can we learn from them, but their examples motivate others that they can succeed, too.”

Anne and her son, Wes.

One of those inspirations happens to be Anne’s oldest son, Wes. He had started gaining extra weight when he was in sixth grade, and he gained steadily as he turned from the athletic interests of his elementary school days to the sedentary pursuit of high school debate championships, weighing 270 pounds by the end of eleventh grade. Despite Anne’s expertise in weight management, little she said or did made any difference in Wes’s habits. And when he did attempt to cut back, his peers who like many active boys at that age, can eat anything, teased him.

Anne first got the idea for the book from an experience. Wes attended a summer academic camp when he was thirteen. While standing in the cafeteria line, he noticed that the kid in front of him was ordering his salad dressing on the side and reaching for a can of diet soda instead of regular. Wes asked him why, since he was so thin. “Oh yeah?” the boy replied as he pulled out a photo of himself when he was at least 40 pounds heavier. ‘Everyone in my family eats like a slob, and I didn’t want to be like them!”

Wes and the boy proceeded to share weight management tips – something neither one had ever been able to do before with other kids the same age.

“When Wes shared the experience, it struck me,” Anne says. “Teens typically don’t listen to adults – their parents, dietitians, or health care professionals – but they do listen to each other. Who better to help young people manage their weight than young people who have done it themselves?”

Thus, the idea for the book was sparked. “More importantly,” Anne says, “hope was kindled in Wes that he’d eventually be able to slim down.” Now twenty-one, Wes has kept his 60 pounds off for three years.

As the stories of the teens and parents in her book suggest, children of any age should never be given the message that their weight determines their value; they need to be loved without conditions. “Over and over,” Anne said, “both teens and parents told me that the incentive for arriving at a healthier weight has to come from within the teen, not the parents.”

A frequent guest on national media, Anne has appeared on “The View”, the “Today Show”, “Donahue”, “Good Morning America”, “CBS This Morning”, CNN, National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation”, and “The Larry King Radio Show.” Her articles on topics ranging from osteoporosis to heart disease have been published in Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, Readers Digest, Redbook, Better Homes & Gardens, Cooking Light, American Psychologist, and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Anne is known for her ability to weave together her inspiring findings from real-life success stories with state-of-the-art information about health issues.  Her motivational speaking appearances have taken place at many consumer events, including women’s expos, health fairs, and national recovery group meetings.

Anne will be presenting her findings from Weight Loss Confidential on Sept. 17, at the national meeting of the American Dietetic Association where she will also receive the ADA’s Media Excellence Award for consistent, accurate, and creative nutrition reporting.

As a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition science, Anne has counseled hundreds of clients with weight problems. She is a former executive editor and chief writer of the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter and was a contributing editor for Prevention Magazine. Her B.S. in human nutrition and food is from Cornell University and her M.S. in nutrition science is from Drexel University.

To book Anne M. Fletcher, MS, RD, LD or read more about her, visit our website.


Something Worth Watching . . .

I’ll be away camping on the Oregon Coast this weekend, but my VCR will be set to tape The Mermaid Chair on Lifetime television Saturday night at 9 p.m., starring Academy Award® winning actress Kim Basinger. I just learned that the book has been made into a movie when I read Sue Monk Kidd’s e-news yesterday morning.

If you haven’t read Sue’s novels, The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, just ask one of your friends to borrow hers. They’ve both sold millions of copies.

I recommend this because Sue’s work focuses on the challenges and victories of women. In The Mermaid Chair, the heroine, Jennie, undergoes a spiritual, artistic and erotic awakening. Her experiences lead her to discover her true self and what she really wants from her life.

“I think a woman wants love and freedom at the same time. When I was writing the book, I was exploring that concept,” Sue says. “I think a lot of women can relate to it.”

As in all of her writing, Sue’s writing in her e-newsletter about her experiences at the filming of the movie, captured her surprise and delight as well as her apprehension. Can you imagine, standing among the characters you’d created.  “It was surreal,” as she said in the e-news.

I can also match her writing voice with her speaking voice because I went to see her speak in the spring of 2005, when she was on tour for The Mermaid Chair and came through Portland.

She talked about both the evolution of the bees book (a coming-of-age story) and the mermaid book (a mid-life change book). She was articulate, funny, prepared, and authentic. I share this because authors, in my experience, don’t necessarily make good speakers, and Sue is an exceptional exception to that generalization.

Oh, and just in case there’s a taping snafu, the movie will also be shown Sunday and Monday on Lifetime. Check your local listings.

Until next time, take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,

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