FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Kaitlin Sheridan, a junior at Cole High School, San Antonio, visited with a Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor to inquire about the program, but was informed her weight rendered her ineligible.

Ironically, she later saw a flyer requesting volunteers for a 12-month weight-loss research program at Brooke Army Medical Center for military dependent teens ages 12-17. Sheridan volunteered and lost 14 pounds.

"I'm very excited! My self-esteem improved and I am looking forward to putting on my bathing suit this summer," she said. "When my friends and I get together on Fridays for a movie night, instead of ordering pizzas we munch on vegetables and spend more time talking than eating."

"It involves changes within the entire family toward a healthier lifestyle," explained Principal Investigator Maj. Jorge Cabrera, a clinical investigation fellow with BAMC.

"The program creates an intervention for teenagers whose weight puts them at risk for health problems in the future and incorporates the latest evidence-based research on behavioral and pharmacotherapy to address not only weight loss, but successful weight loss maintenance.

There are no studies to date that provide such a comprehensive approach to weight loss maintenance in teenagers as this one," Cabrera said, adding the program utilizes combined medical expertise from physicians, psychologists and dieticians from Brooke Army and Wilford Hall Medical Centers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Nutrition Examination Survey indicates 90 percent of active duty military recruits are between ages 17-24, the same age range that has tripled its prevalence of overweight and obese individuals. CDC maintains that an obese state during childhood and as a teenager is the leading risk factor for becoming and remaining overweight as an adult.

Cabrera notes early detection and prevention of obesity is the key focus of the study's research. He further explained that guidelines and standard operating procedures for a medical team to assist adolescents with obesity will result, reducing costs for the military by preventing future health problems associated with obese recruits.

"I have tried everything to lose the weight since I was 8-years-old," said Lyynel Washington, an aspiring singer.

"Dieting and exercising just didn't work. This program educated me on eating the right amount of food and helps me think of healthy choices of what I eat. I have a lot more energy than I have ever had before. All my friends and Family are getting involved with healthy eating and exercise, which motivates me to keep on losing the weight. My lifestyle has changed."

"Kaitlin and Lyynel are two of the 37 motivated participants seeing a huge difference within the first two months on the program," Cabrera said.

"I heard boys and girls were getting teased by other students because they were considering joining the research. I want to tell anyone who is considering: it does not matter what other people think, I'm losing the weight and I look good," Sheridan said enthusiastically.