Award-Winning ENERGIZE! Program Turns Kids into Champions
Before Ashle, 17, and Alex, 14, were enrolled in WakeMed's ENERGIZE! program, they were on an all too familiar path to developing type 2 diabetes. Their grandmother, Bernice Rogers, worried about their weight and future health but assumed they were too young to develop diabetes. After all, she thought it was just a problem for adults like her.
Rogers, the primary caregiver for Ashle and Alex, knows all about the life changes diabetes can bring. Living with type 2 diabetes herself, she was relieved to learn that her grandchildren have the chance to change their life course now. "They've grown up around people who are sick so none of us want them to face a lifetime of needles and medicine," said Rogers.
When Alex and Ashle were referred to WakeMed by Dr. Albertina Smith at Sunshine Pediatrics, they were tested and diagnosed as having borderline pre-diabetes, according to Rogers. The good news was they had a fighting chance to take control of their future with healthier choices and a more active lifestyle.
Through ENERGIZE!, a 12-week, family-based program for children ages 6 to 18 with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, kids learn how to build lifelong, healthy attitudes about food and fitness. For kids like Ashle and Alex, who weren't actively involved in athletics at the time of pre-diabetes diagnosis, the program has strong record of success.
"I'm not a big sports fan and probably didn't expose them to as many activities as some kids get," said Rogers. "But now, we go to the YMCA together and do things as a family team. We recently took a hip-hop class together. Ashle really enjoyed that." Thanks to the ENERGIZE! program, which is offered at various locations for the convenience of families, Rogers learned about a scholarship program at the YMCA, and the kids also became involved with the summer camps.
Together, the family of three has lost between 50 and 60 pounds. "We work at it and focus on moderation. We all understand it is healthier to lose it the right way over time," said Rogers. She hopes they will continue to make the right choices and is thankful their doctor knew about ENERGIZE!
See Ashle and Alex in the ENERGIZE! Public Service Announcement
The American Hospital Association (AHA) selected WakeMed'sENERGIZE! to receive the coveted NOVA Award in July 2008.ENERGIZE! is one of only five hospital-led programs in the nation recognized this year for their collaborative efforts toward improving community health.
Since 2003, the John Rex Endowment has provided support for WakeMed Pediatric Diabetes programs, including ENERGIZE! in Wake County. Based on positive results from the Wake County program, the N.C. Legislature approved funding to implement the program in five additional counties across the state.
"We believe ENERGIZE! could be a national model to help curb the emerging epidemic of type 2 diabetes," commented Bill Lagarde, MD, WakeMed pediatric endocrinologist andENERGIZE! medical director. "ENERGIZE! reaches kids before elevated blood glucose and excess weight cause lasting health effects by arming them with the information they need to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes."
To date, more than 500 children have completed the program. Fifty percent of participants decreased BMI by an average of seven percent at their six month follow-up visits. Among participants whose fasting blood glucose was greater than 100, 50 percent of these children had reduced their fasting blood glucose levels to normal six months after completing ENERGIZE!
In addition six months after completing the program, program graduates exercised more and spent less time watching TV, playing video games, and using the computer. They also drank more water and less soda and sweetened beverages than they had before enrolling in the course.
Children are eligible for ENERGIZE! if they have elevated blood glucose levels or metabolic syndrome, indicating high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They participate in a 12-week, three-night-a-week, community-based intensive education and lifestyle change program with lessons in nutrition, physical fitness, and behavior change.