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His aim: Helping obese children

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Tollie Schmidt knows the pain of being an obese child.

Schmidt, who once weighed more than 500 pounds but now tips the scales at a lean 190, is dedicating his life to helping overweight and obese children.

“I was working at a restaurant and saw these overweight kids and thought, ‘If they only knew what I went through.’ Gastric bypass surgery saved my life, but I don’t recommend it.”

So what does Schmidt suggest when it comes to overweight children?

Through nutrition and knowing how the body works, anybody can find help, he said. “It’s psychological. When it comes to losing weight, it’s about working through the programming of why you gain weight and figuring out what needs to be done.”

Until recently, Schmidt had always figured he would go into international business. “But God hit me with a brick. Helping kids –- this is what I’m supposed to do. I went through all of my experiences in order to help people either get changed or not even get there in the first place.”

With that in mind, Schmidt is in the midst of organizing a comprehensive program of training, education and lectures with which he can start helping obese children.

“I’m looking at ages 10 and over,” he said. “I want parents to start looking at their kids’ eating habits at home. A lot of times, parents feed their kids just as they’ve been fed as kids. That means a lot of baking –- cakes and cookies. If the habits are bad, they must be changed.”

Bad habits, Schmidt said, are ingrained in kids because that’s all they know.

“They know fast food, but they don’t know healthy food. They haven’t been taught about healthy food.”

Too often, he said, parents program their kids without even knowing it. “Even if mom is skinny and she says, ‘I hate vegetables,’ then the kids will hate vegetables.”

Lifestyle is just as important, Schmidt said.

“We have to teach kids not to sit at home watching TV or playing video games. Parents need to take their kids out and do things. Find something fun to do and do it.”

But, Schmidt cautioned, changes must come slowly.

“This doesn’t happen overnight. Gradually make changes and encourage your kids to do them along with you.”

Schmidt hopes to become a premiere consultant in youth nutrition, saying he wants to do seminars nationwide and publish books and other resources on the topic. “I want to give parents everything they need for their kids to succeed,” he said. “I want to fight this epidemic of child obesity.”

It will be hard work, but the results will be worth it.

“When you finally get someone to realize that they’re worth something, then they’ll stop the harm they’re doing to themselves and start to change. That’s what I want to be a part of.”
Tollie Schmidt can be contacted through his website at www.tollieschmidt.com.

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  • David Ettinger