Children in Hampton Roads feeling affects of obesity


by Sandra Parker

Posted on March 10, 2011 at 7:22 PM

NORFOLK— Obesity may be taking a toll on children in Hampton Roads.  

The Centers for Disease Control identified Virginia and North Carolina as two of the 15 states in the diabetes belt.

The number of kids with type 2 diabetes is highest in the state in some parts of Hampton Roads.

Nationally, one out of every five children is obese.

Medical professionals estimate that locally, one out of every four children is considered obese.

These numbers are leading to another concern called diabesity.

Chyennesia Griffin found out a year ago that she’s diabetic.

“For me, I started doing a change, but I didn't change for my child,” said Griffin.

A few months after Griffin’s diagnosis a doctor told her that her granddaughter, Xyla King, was on the road to getting diabetes herself if she didn’t make some changes of her own.

Xyla is only ten years old.

“What’s going to happen? What am I going to do? I was freaking out. I was like, uh-oh. This is not good, this is not good,” said “I was scared mostly about if I was going to become a diabetic or not."

Xyla had to lose some weight.

Griffin enrolled her in the CHKD Healthy You program. That’s where they received help and learned more about diabesity.

It refers specifically to type two diabetes, which is an adult type of diabetes. You’re not supposed to see until you’re in your 50’s or 60’s with a pot belly.

It’s the kind of diabetes we’re now seeing in children eight, nine, ten years old because of their weight.

“It refers specifically to type two diabetes which is an adult type of diabetes that you're not supposed to see until you’re in your 50 or 60's with a pot belly. That’s the kind of diabetes we're now seeing in children 8, 9, 10 years old. We’re seeing it at that age because of their weight,” said Babs Benson, head of the Healthy You program.

She says certain areas of Hampton Roads are worse than others.

 “Suffolk, Isle Wight, Franklin and Ivor have the highest rate of diabetes in the entire state. It's tragic,” said Benson.

Part of the problem is there aren’t a lot of programs designed to help children in those locations, she said.

The closest Healthy You classes are in Newport News or Chesapeake.

“Now with gas prices, that doesn't help that any and they're less likely to do it,” said Benson. "If we could bring it closer to home, I think more people would be likely to do it."

For Xyla, getting the help she needed was life-changing.

“They told us her blood work came back and she was fine. The levels had gone down,” said Griffin.

"Now I feel better. I feel like, wow, my life has changed. I'm better now. It's all coming together,” said Xyla.

Friday the Obici Healthcare Foundation is presenting a diabesity forum at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

They’re trying to bring more awareness to this epidemic.