Gerber Memorial Hospital

Tamarac, a Member of Spectrum Health Adolescent Obesity Pilot Program a Huge Success

FREMONT, Mich., August 10, 2011- From January to June 2011, adolescents from all over Newaygo County had the opportunity to participate in a weight-loss focused, Adolescent Obesity Pilot program offered by Tamarac, a member of Spectrum Health in Fremont. While the emphasis was on weight reduction, an important goal of the Tamarac coaches was to help participants learn how to live healthier lives.

According to Medical Director, Dr. Robert Clouse, there are very few weight loss programs for adolescents in the country which are based on a supervised, low calorie diet (1,000 calories per day) that also includes an exercise component. Dr. Clouse says, “There has been very little research done on low calorie diets for adolescents and we hope to publish our results in a medical journal so that other communities may benefit from our experience”. This 1,000 calorie per day diet consists of fruits, vegetables and a powdered meal replacement product, which can be bought at Tamarac. The product, Health One, can be prepared in a variety of ways, from making smoothies to brownies to soups and much more.

A total of 12 adolescents (four boys and eight girls) between the ages of 11 and 18, took on the challenge. To take part in this program, participants were required to be at the 95th percentile for weight or higher, meaning the adolescents weight must be above 95 percent of other adolescents their age group. They also had to be capable of physical activity and exercise. It was mandatory for each adolescent to have a parent/guardian take part in the program as well.

Michigan is now the 10th most obese state in the country. In twelve states, including Michigan, the obesity rate of the population is over 30 percent. Rapidly increasing adolescent obesity rates in Michigan have continued to “feed” an epidemic in our country, due to a significant increase in daily calorie intake and a decrease in physical activity.

The goal of Tamarac’s Adolescent Obesity Pilot Program was to inform adolescents what it truly means to be healthy. This medically supervised, long-term health and weight management program was based on the very effective, successful adult New You program at Tamarac, and was further modified for the adolescents. New You provides support, encouragement and the knowledge needed to work toward the participant’s goals of living a healthy lifestyle. Health and Nutrition Technologies, the manufacturer of the meal replacement product used for the program, contributed the meal replacements at no cost to the participants.

Each adolescent was successful and expressed how he or she felt transformed after finishing the program. Participants had outstanding results, such as:

  • Jacob Nolff, age 12, lost a total of 55 pounds. He lost eight inches around his waist and six inches at his hips. Jacob’s body fat percentage dropped from 43.4% to 22.8%. When asked how he felt after the program, he said he felt more energetic and able to be more social.
  • Chelsea Kuck, age of 16, lost a total of 40 pounds. She lost three inches around her waist and four inches at her hips. Chelsea’s Body Fat percentage dropped from 51.3% to 45.5%. When asked after the program how she felt, she said she was able to be more social, and was happy to be able to run a 5K, which she was not able to do before.

The overall total weight loss of the adolescents was 391 pounds. The average weight loss was 32.5 pounds. All 12 adolescents and their parent/guardian completed the 20 week program.

One participant, Kayley Devisser, age 14, lost a total of 46 pounds. She lost eight inches around her waist and six inches at her hips and her body fat percentage dropped from 43.8% to 31.7%. When asked how she felt after the program, she wrote the following:

“Changing your diet is tough and a real challenge, but all the hard work is definitely worth it. Through this program, I learned how to control how I eat, how much I consume and what I put in my mouth. I have also changed the lives of friends and family. I am my cousin’s inspiration and my friends’ role model. I have even had an effect on the way my brother eats. I am just a normal girl who got the chance of a lifetime to help others and herself get better. If you just believe in yourself, anything is possible!”

This program was made possible in part through a grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation.