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From Isabelle, child's age 12

I am writing this to encourage parents of overweight children to have their kids feet checked by an experienced podiatrist - you won't believe the difference it can make! This time last year my 11 year old son Ben was tipping the scales at 175 pounds, which for his age and height (5ft 2 in) put him in the obese range. He had tried multiple times to lose weight through diet and exercise, but the latter effort was being sabotaged by a common problem among overweight children -- problems with his feet. With Ben increasingly complaining of foot and leg pain during physical activity, I took him to see a podiatrist in Ardmore, PA named Eric Ricefield - and he explained to me taht xxcess weight damages the delicate and immature nature of children’s feet, leaving them at particular risk of deformities and abnormalities. Also, the extra weight puts extra pressure on the joints of the feet, leading to problems with the way the foot aligns and functions. Balance is affected as well, because heavy kids spend more time balancing on two feet when they walk. rather than one foot, making them extremely unstable All of which creates a huge Catch 22 for overweight children, because… • What’s a critical component of weight loss, especially for kids? Exercise. • But if you’re unstable and have inherent problems with your feet, exercise can be risky and lead to more serious problems. When Dr. Ricefield examined Ben he immediately saw that Ben’s weight had resulted in a severe case of flat feet and a misaligned gait that was more of a side-side motion than a forward stride. Ben was fitted for a corrective orthotic insert that gave him more support, adjusted his balance and allowed him to be more active. A year later, Ben is 32 pounds thinner. And he and I both swear that the turning point was getting his foot problems addressed. Some key learnings here: - If your child if your child has a weight problem, you should be getting their feet checked regularly for any weight related complications. •Before starting an obese child on an exercise program, it’s crucial that you get his or her feet checked by a podiatrist to make sure that he or she can support the specified activity. If you live in the Philadelphia, PA area, I'd recommend Dr. Eric Ricefield - he was great with Ben. Helpful and encouraging without being judgemental or intimidating -- he even called me several times over the course of the year to find out how Ben was doing. YOu can find him online at