National focus on fitness and diet expands to include teenagers; Steps to cut weight, stay fit and cure obesity range from Scotch Plains to The Biggest Loser

by Paige Heiden
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being overweight during adolescence increases one’s risk for mental and physical health problems in the future, including high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  At Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, students are taking the initiative to fight against childhood obesity.

Ali Dorn
Sophomore Ali Dorn lost 35 pounds after eighth grade, so she is familiar with adjusting old habits in order to create a healthier lifestyle.  For her, the first step to getting in shape was designing a healthy diet with the help of E! magazine specialists.
“I cut out white sugars and non- whole-grain carbs, sweets and processed foods. I replaced them with lots of fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, chicken and salad,” said Dorn.  In addition to watching what she eats, Dorn drinks a lot of water and is sure to exercise daily.
“I run and do yoga, cycling classes, the elliptical and Zumba classes,” said Dorn.
Dorn’s advice to students looking to drop extra pounds is to stay active by finding a sport or exercise  they love and always to eat in moderation.
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Brian Lapham
Sophomore Brian Lapham relies on his participation in varsity wrestling to keep him fit.  However, Lapham found that his intense wrestling practices and weight-cutting methods were causing him to be severely dehydrated, which made it difficult to focus in school.  Therefore, he has adopted a strict meal plan from a professional nutritionist.
“For the most part, [wrestling practice] is a tough and constant session of drilling and live wrestling. Although it may be painful to pull through, it has put me in the best possible shape,” said Lapham.
“Being able to drink a little more water and eat healthy, organic meals has kept me fit and energetic for the upcoming matches and practices,” said Lapham. “Dehydration changes your mood and makes you drowsy and out of it. My body was deprived of nutrients before my new diet, so I did not feel 100 percent for practices and at night.”
Lapham’s new meal plan is unusual for a wrestler, as it calls for him to eat six times per day, totaling nearly 2,582 calories on some days. Most of the food items on his meal plan are raw fruits and vegetables with their skins, whole-wheat carbs, non-fat yogurt, lean meats, energy and granola bars, eggs and skim milk.
The Biggest Loser:
Challenge America
The fight against this epidemic has now been taken to the small screen as season 14 of The Biggest Loser, subtitled Challenge America, invited three teen contestants this year to help motivate children and teens across America to adopt healthier lifestyles.
The two 13-year-old and the one 16-year-old contestants are three of the 12.5 million children between ages of two and 19 in the U.S. who are obese. Each of these teens has at least 60 pounds to lose in order to reach a healthy weight.
The Biggest Loser diet follows a 4-3-2-1 pyramid: four servings of fruit and vegetables per day, three servings of protein—lean, vegetarian, or low-fat dairy—two servings of whole grains and one “extra” of fats, oils or sweets.
Unlike the 15 adult contestants, the teens are not subject to elimination or weigh-ins, as the trainers try to instill positive energy by allowing them to participate in kid-friendly activities, such as rowing, cheerleading and obstacle courses.
Check-ins via video chats are aired each episode as the trainers encourage students to organize community events like a circuit training course.
Both in the high school and on television, emphasis is placed on learning habits of healthy eating and physical activity that will last a lifetime.