A new program developed by the US government is tackling the obesity epidemic by helping "tween" girls and their parents make small but important changes to build a healthier lifestyle. The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office on Women's Health launched BodyWorks in 2006 by training instructors in the hopes that they would bring the program home to their communities. All materials are provided free, but communities must find the resources to pay trainers and a place to offer the program.
 
"Throughout the years, I've worked with nutritionists, I've worked with diet programs, and it's very frustrating," Dr. Monica Richter, a pediatrician on staff at the Children's Hospital Seattle and a BodyWorks instructor who coordinates fundraising to help support the program, told Reuters Health. "I'm hoping that this will be one of the answers to this growing problem."
 
Girls nine to 13 years old who are overweight or obese are referred to BodyWorks through their pediatrician or by word-of-mouth. Parents and caregivers attend 10 weekly 90-minute sessions, and girls are expected to show up for at least three. The goal is to give parents and caregivers "hands-on tools to make small behavior changes to prevent obesity and help maintain a healthier weight," according to the BodyWorks website (http://www.womenshealth.gov/bodyworks).
 
There are now 1,700 BodyWorks instructors based in 43 states, according to Dr. Wanda Jones, the director of the Office on Women's Health and deputy assistant secretary for women's health at HHS. About 700 parents and caregivers have completed the program.
 
Adapted from a news blog from http://ihrsa-industry-news.blogspot.com.

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