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Grant from Seattle Seahawks Helps Fund Program

SEATTLE, Wash. - (Dec. 26, 2007) - Dozens of children and their parents are tackling childhood overweight and obesity issues in classes offered through Virginia Mason Medical Center’s Nutrition and Fitness for Life (NFL) program, funded in part through a grant from the Seattle Seahawks.

The classes, led by coordinator Beth Olenchuk, include five weeks of instruction and activities about nutrition, exercise, family participation, and ways to deal with behaviors and emotions. Most patients are referred to the program through a pediatrician.

Virginia Mason offers the classes at its Federal Way, Issaquah and downtown Seattle locations. The youth classes are available to participants ages 7 to 10. Adolescent classes are for 11- to 14-year-olds.

Participants from the pilot program last summer saw tremendous success through the NFL classes. Young participants reported healthy changes in diet and exercise, weight loss and other improvements, such as lowered blood pressure. One father shared how the NFL program encouraged daily exercise that led to an improved relationship with his son as they talked together while walking around the apartment complex.

"The implications of childhood obesity are staggering," said Michael Dudas, MD, chief of pediatrics at Virginia Mason. "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of children ages 6 to 19 years old are overweight or obese. That number has tripled since 1980, bringing with it a young generation plagued by diabetes and heart disease."

To learn more about the NFL program call (206) 223-6188 or visit

Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a non-profit comprehensive regional health care system that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 400 physicians with a 336-bed acute care hospital in Seattle. In addition, Virginia Mason has a network of clinics located throughout the Puget Sound area, and manages Bailey-Boushay House, a nursing residence and adult day health program for people living with HIV and AIDS. Virginia Mason also has an internationally recognized research center, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason.

Alisha Mark 
Media Relations
(206) 341-1509

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