Some scientists fear this could be the first American generation in which parents outlive their children. One in seven children and adolescents are. So for its "Week of Wishes," The Early Show found a young Connecticut student who wants to help herself and others by her example.
It's softball season in Pawcatuck, Conn., and for eighth grader Emily Borden, time to get out and compete.
Emily is a busy teenager. She sings, she's played in the school band, she's been a cheerleader and, of course she has a circle of friends.
But Emily has become increasingly aware of a problem.
She says, "I'll eat stuff I know I shouldn't, so I'm kind of conscious about it, kind of not."
At more than 200 pounds, Emily sees weight as an issue now. It wasn't always. Her parents, Lisa and Joel, kept a watchful eye through the years, but they weren't surprised when it happened.
Lisa Borden says, "Weight runs in my family and it runs in Joel's family."
Joel Borden adds, "I'm the same way. If I don't run, or whatever, I could gain up, up in the big weights, too."
Emily says, "I do want to lose weight. It's just kind of tough."
Emily and her parents know her long-term health - in fact, her life itself - could be at risk if they don't help her now.
Her mom says, "I think that we made a big mistake with carbohydrates, because everything for the first half of her life I made low fat, but everything was loaded with carbohydrates.
But diet is only part of the problem for overweight children.
Lisa Borden says, "If she's here in the house? She is either on the telephone, sitting in front of the television, or on the Internet. And she's also a big reader."
There is always room for more, and regular, physical activity. Emily says, "Maybe I need to do it on more of like a daily basis or something, or like a program, or something like that."
The family is active. But a child's interest can be fleeting. Emily's cheerleading led her mom to become a coach, but after three years Emily has moved on.
Joel coaches Emily's softball team. He also took up karate because of Emily. But Emily lost interest.
"It was a workout," she says. "But it was really boring and I didn't like it."
Emily's passion is softball. At 13, she's in her ninth season. And has been an all-star for the past two. There are dreams of a scholarship. But for now, she is learning about herself on the field and off.
She says, "Being overweight in school is a very tough thing to go through. A lot of the kids at my school, they don't really make fun of people, but there are a few of them there...Sometimes it would bother me but I wouldn't say anything about it, and I just let it go. And sometimes it would be in the back of my mind, but I just usually let things fly."
The Early Show found out about Emily's story through her mom, who wrote to the "Week of Wishes" the following letter:
My daughter is 13, and it would be my wish to send her to a weight-loss camp this summer. She has said she wanted to go, but they cost thousands of dollars.
Her weight has brought attention to her, her entire life. Friends have been hard to come by. Emily is going into high school this year and it would be great if she could lose some weight, and raise her self-esteem before she enters high school."
So on Tuesday, Emily was surprised with her mom's wish come true through the generosity of
Paul Lehr, president of the Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa, invited the family to visit his facility, just north of Miami. He says, "Pritikin's one- and two-week lifestyle-change programs focus on exercise, a healthy diet, and an educational program to teach people how to continue a healthy lifestyle at home. Although you are welcome to visit us at your convenience, we are recommending a two-week visit to Pritikin's family program, which begins this year on June 19."
The Greater Miami Convention and Tourism Bureau will provide transportation for the Borden family.
For more information about Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa and its Family Program visit www.pritikin.com or call 1-800-327-4914.