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Press Releases: Georgia

January 1, 2006

Operation Zero: Helping overweight children

One of the single biggest health problem of children is obesity. The number of overweight children in Georgia continues to grow, but local pediatrician Luke Beno, MD, is doing something about it.

Dr. Beno started Operation Zero, better known as the O.Z. program, for overweight adolescents and their families. The goal of O.Z. is to reduce to zero the risk of health problems associated with being overweight, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The program targets 8- to 17-year-old children, as well as their parents or caregivers.

The O.Z. team includes a pediatrician or health educator, registered dietitian, professional check and clinical assistant. O.Z. is now available to Kaiser Permanente members in Georgia and the Mid-Atlantic States.

O.Z. participants meet for eight weekly sessions followed by four quarterly meetings. Sessions address topics such as low fat cooking, reading food labels, healthy snacks, exercise, and making better food choices when eating out. Through games, worksheets, discussions, demonstrations, and physical activities, both adolescents and their parents/guardians learn how to make positive lifestyle changes.

"The key to long-term success is taking it slow and changing one thing at a time," said Dr. Beno, "For example, during the first session I ask kids to incorporate 50 minutes of physical activity on one day in the next week. By the end of the workshop, they are exercising 50 minutes five days a week

If you are working on a story about childhood obesity and would like to learn more about Dr. Luke Beno’s Operation Zero program, please contact Matthew Grund at 404-364-7074.

Kaiser Permanente is the state of Georgia's largest nonprofit health plan, serving the health care needs of Atlanta metro area residents for 22 years. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc. currently provides comprehensive health care services to approximately 275,000 members through 15 medical facilities in a 28-county service, and a network of affiliated hospitals and physicians. The Health Plan provided more than $5 million in community benefit programs and services.