F.L.A.S.H. is an offshoot of a federally supported family-oriented lifestyle program the Health Department ran previously. Now, it is organized and funded by the Health Department, giving program planners the ability to accept self-referrals from families rather than directly through pediatricians.
Although children are weighed in at the beginning and weighed again at the conclusion of the program, success is not based on weight loss but on how well the children — and their family members — have understood and accepted lifestyle changes that promote healthier habits.
“We offer a pre-course survey and a post-course survey that helps identify changes they have made,” Snay said. “For instance, if they said they were drinking 2 percent milk when they started the course and are now drinking 1 percent or fat-free milk, then that’s a positive change.”
“Weight is a symptom of other problems,” said Steve Peters, director of the Recreation Department for the City of Plattsburgh, which will be providing the location for the program as well as the certified exercise specialist at the city’s Rec Center on U.S. Oval.
“If you address the symptom (by focusing on weight loss), then you’re not addressing the problem,” he added. “With proper nutrition and exercise, the symptoms will subside.”
Children must be between 9 and 11 years of age and have a Body Mass Index (BMI, which measures the percentage of fat tissue in the body) over 85. Families can work with their pediatricians to determine the child’s BMI, but the Health Department can help determine that as well.
“If a family is concerned about weight issues, they should give us a call, and we’ll see what we can do,” Snay said.
This year marks the initial partnership between the Health Department and City Recreation Department in working with the F.L.A.S.H. program.