Three years ago - the same year that he was classified as morbidly obese - Arthur Miller IV's asthma was so bad he was hospitalized on life support for three days. Even last spring, the 292-pound New Orleans teen was so incapacitated that his family needed a handicapped-parking placard when driving him around.
"He couldn't walk 200 feet," says Peretta Miller, his mother.
Then Arthur, who's now 16, joined the Committed to Kids(tm) Weight-Management Program offered by the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center at Children's Hospital in New Orleans. He and his family started to go to a weekly healthier eating and exercise program led by physicians, dietitians and psychologists.
Motivated in part by other kids' taunts, in less than a year he shed 76 pounds and went from a 50-inch to a 42-inch waist. "I'm passionate about losing weight and I've gotten a lot of reinforcement from my family," says the 5-foot-11 high school junior. "They've changed their habits to coincide with my eating and exercise habits."
Arthur used to eat four sandwiches and a box of sugar-laden cereal per day, along with a lot of cookies and potato chips. Now he drinks lots of water, and also has cut back on rice and potatoes. "I don't fry as much as I used to," Mrs. Miller adds. She bakes or microwaves their fish instead. The family also eats many more fresh vegetables, such as broccoli, bell peppers and snap peas.
Fitness-wise, Arthur began gradually by following a weight management program exercise video each day. Now he plays basketball almost daily with his brother and neighbors and lifts weights twice a week.
"I feel great, I like the way I look and my asthma's a lot better," says Arthur, an aspiring attorney. His goals include losing 15 to 25 more pounds and returning to an amusement park roller coaster he couldn't ride last year because he was too large for the seat belt.
"Arthur always had a wonderful personality, but now he just radiates," says his mother, an elementary school principal. "Literally, it is saving my son's life."