LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Almost one third of Louisiana children are obese, according to a Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning. Lake Charles middle schooler Ajah Albro, 14, struggles with her weight, but recently took a turn for the better after a summer of fitness.
"I was really worried, I was worried sooner or later I was going to end up dying," shuddered Albro.
She was out of breath at school and hit rock bottom after classmates teased her for the weight.
"You couldn't get Ajah to go on a treadmill or even walk around," said Kisha Guillory, Community Outreach for SWLA Health Services.
Ajah submitted a heartfelt essay about her trouble losing the weight, self esteem problems and overall frustration with her health. The essay struck a note with SWLA Health Services and they decided to send her to a summer weight loss camp, Wellspring Camp in San Marcos, Texas.
After coming home from camp, Albro says she's a changed person: "It makes me feel like I'm worth something and I shouldn't put myself down because of what other people say. It makes me feel like that no matter if I'm big or whatever...it makes me feel like I'm beautiful on the inside and out."
The new Ajah is 14.5 pounds lighter on her way to her 100 pound weight loss goal. Her father, Richard Glaspie, is a single-dad and says he's very proud of her determination to lose weight. In fact, he has supported Ajah's diet so well that he's lost 15 pounds on his own.
"She's a completely changed person! She has a lot more confidence. She cooks her own meals and everything is baked, steamed or grilled."
Albro says the best part of losing the weight is the self confidence she's gained. Besides physical symptoms, children who are overweight can have serious emotional problems. 30 percent of all 6th to 12th grade kids have depression symptoms due to their weight, according to the Louisiana Physical Activity and Health for Children and Youth 2009 report card.