New remedy for obese children

Private centre in Calgary first in Canada, but pediatrician wishes business wasn't growing so fast. Over the years, Peter Nieman has tried to help more than 200 &to=' target=_blank>obese children lose weight in his family practice, but the childhood obesity expert soon realized the problem needed to be tackled on a number of fronts, not just at the examining table.

He is now the pediatrician at the private clinic - the first of its kind in Canada - which also has on staff a dietician to talk about proper nutrition, a therapist to figure out what's causing kids to overeat and a physical trainer who will employ techniques such as using heart-pumping, feet-moving video games to show that exercise can be fun.

Hoping the clinic spawns copycats and eventually closes, Dr. Nieman doesn't sound like an entrepreneur keen to capitalize on a burgeoning client base.

"It is sad, but there's a need for it," he said.

"I'd be very happy if this clinic is out of business down the road. I'd be very happy if this clinic multiplies in the rest of the country."

With girth rates ballooning and Canada facing a childhood obesity epidemic, the clinic will likely be seeing a steady stream of children - some as young as five, at a cost to parents of $2,400 per child - for quite some time. Already, there's talk of setting up similar clinics, some of them publicly funded, elsewhere in the country.

The problem of obesity is going to cost us as a society," said Dr. Nieman, who lobbied unsuccessfully for public funding, "There's one question: Do you want to pay now or do you want to pay later? That's what it boils down to."

Statistics Canada reports that about half the Canadian population is overweight, including 15 per cent who are considered obese. About 36 per cent of children aged two to 11 are now overweight, and 10 per cent of them are obese, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, informs The Globe and Mail.

According to The Star, we hate to burst your bubble but according to the standard international benchmark for weight - the BMI or body mass index - you're both overweight and at a higher risk of a host of health problems. Don't believe it? Neither do a growing chorus of experts who say the BMI does more harm than good because it focuses on weight and height and not physical activity as a factor in good health. In fact, the "epidemic of obesity" linked to the BMI measurement that is supposedly wreaking havoc on the health and well-being of North Americans of all ages, is nothing but a bunch of bogus "mumbo jumbo," says Paul Campos, author of The Obesity Myth and a law professor at the University of Colorado.

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