Club to tackle kids’ obesity

by Jim Boyle


Russ Branjord hit 200 pounds before his 13th birthday, and his battle with obesity continued well into his adulthood.

At one point he  weighed 330 pounds.

“Through my personal struggles as a child, adult and now as a parent, I have learned what is necessary to put an end to (this) battle,” the club director of the Elk River Boys & Girls Club says.

That’s why he’s so pumped for a first-time event that he and others hope becomes an annual one.

Branjord and the club have joined forces with Sherburne County Public Health, Fairview Clinic in Elk River and the Minnesota School of Business to put on a Healthy Families Night from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26 at the Boys & Girls Club of Elk River.

This free event will provide fun activities for kids and a chance for adults to learn tools and gather helpful information for the fight against childhood obesity.

“This battle begins as a child for many of us and, as parents, we need to equip our children with the right tools to protect them from the pain and frustration of being overweight,” Branjord said.  “While the outcome may seem dim, I’m living proof that we can win the battle of obesity — now and forever.”

Branjord, the author of “Spike Diet,” will be on hand with several others, including Dr. Jessica N. Larson, a pediatrician with the Fairview Elk River Clinic.

Rebecca Pearson, CMA, the medical assisting program chair for the Minnesota School of Business, and  Matt Jackson of Sherburne County Public Health will also be on hand.

Scary stats on childhood obesity

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.

The percentage of children aged 6 to 11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 20 percent in 2008.

Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years who were obese increased from 5 percent to 18 percent over the same period.

In 2008, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water or a combination of these factors.

Obesity is defined as having excess body fat.

Overweight and obesity are the result of “caloric imbalance” — too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed — and are affected by various genetic, behavioral and environmental factors.