Cover Story: Charlotte, get your move on!

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Fat Charlotte.  One of the fattest, unhealthiest cities in America.  That's according to a recent survey by Men's Fitness Magazine.

Charlotte is the ninth fattest major metropolitan city in the country.  According to Men's Fitness our people just don't eat right - don't get enough fruits and veggies.

The magazine found too few of us workout.  In part, that's because there's such limited access to proper workout facilities, gyms, pools.

Some of the biggest offenders are our young people - kids.  Sitting on the couch, watching TV, playing video games.  Now, a new push to get them moving.

Wednesday night at UNC Charlotte, the premiere of a movie called "The Fat Boy Chronicles" about a teen's struggle with obesity.

They're hoping this starts a movement here in Charlotte.

The movie comes from the book of the same name that every eighth grader in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, 10,000 eighth graders, are reading right now.

Organizers are hoping we get kids to talking about healthy choices and it'll take off.

If it's up to these two women-- Charlotte won't be known as a fat city anymore.

Libby Safrit with the non-profit "Teen Health Connection" and Deb Kaclik director of Arts, Health, P.E. with CMS.

They discovered a little known book, "The Fat Boy Chronicles" that came out about a year ago and saw the potential.

"It was an explosion," says Safrit.

"It was like the golden nugget that had been dropped in my lap," says Kaclik.

"The Fat Boy Chronicles" the movie and the book follow the life of a incoming high school freshman.

Inspired by a true story it chronicles 14-year old Jimmy's struggle with obesity and bullying.

The message it teaches how to think about eating right and how to treat each other with respect.

"It's not just about weight. It's about movement and it's about making healthy choices with their body," says Safrit.

The curriculum CMS has developed to go along with kids reading "The Fat Boy Chronicles" has inspired kids to get active and get fit.  Students at Bradley Middle School who came up with this flash mob, which is a dance routine that students can break in when in a public setting.

"Children are getting about 400-to-600 additional calories a day but part of the problem is we're not moving enough.. so we could be offsetting that if we were moving about an hour a day at an intense enough level," says Kaclik.

CMS hopes the book and the attention spreads from a discussion in the classroom to the community.

The problem we know.  One out of three kids is overweight or obese, an "epidemic" say health officials.

If allowed to continue children today may live shorter lives by two-to-five years.  And one-third of all kids born after 2000 will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lifetime.

It's why First Lady Michelle Obama is using her bully pulpit stressing exercise and healthy habits.  A national campaign called "Let's Move."  The Charlotte initiative they're calling "Charlotte, Get Your Move On!"

"It's got to be something that we continue to do. It's going to take us to do it. You got to take your health in your own hands," says Kaclik.

"This is amazing. Stop. Time out. Charlotte get your move on," says Safrit.

Here are a couple sobering statistics about obesity and its link to bullying.  52% of middle school students in CMS say they've been bullied because of body size.  14% admit to trying to kill themselves in the last year.

What has led to so much obesity among adolescents?  One thing mention is all the "fat free" products on the market now.  Instead of eating a couple cookies- we think we can eat a dozen and products today are loaded with corn syrup and sugar.  Plus we're not as active as we used to be.

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