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Man on a Mission: Childhood Obesity: January 2, 2012

Jared Fogle, the guy from the Subway commercials, is a man on a mission. Famous for dropping 245 pounds eating a strict diet of pared down subs, he is now using his super-sized status to target kids.

“One of the things I try to do is just share with them my personal story about how the mistakes that I made when I was their age. You know I started putting on weight when I was in third or fourth grade,” says Jared.

The combination of too much food and too little exercise is becoming a familiar theme. Today, one in ten children under the age of two are already considered overweight.

“We see a lot of kids going to the pediatricians and they have serious weight problems,” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, Vice President of Health and Wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.

The obesity epidemic is putting children in harm’s way. Doctors are diagnosing young patients with grownup conditions like type two diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It’s a recipe for disaster.

“It’s not just the fact that you’re overweight, but the longer you live with weight problems, the more you have risk for these chronic diseases, and the more you have concerns for mortality which you know basically means dying early,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Jared turned the corner on his health as a college student. It was not a moment too soon.

“Just getting around on a daily basis was tough you know. My cholesterol was high, my blood pressure was high, all these things were starting to go through the roof, and I’m just very fortunate that I made this decision to change,” says Jared.

Seventy-five percent of obese adolescents will become obese adults. In his Southwest Florida visit, Jared wanted to encourage kids to make healthy choices, practicing good nutrition and getting off the couch.

“It’s worth all the time you put into it and you’ll feel better and you’ll live a better life,” says Jared.

Children, adults. Same problem, same solution.