The effectiveness of the "Energy Up" program developed by lifestyle and fitness leader Kathie Dolgin known to her students as High Voltage, has recently been evaluated in an article published in the May issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health (www.adolescenthealth.org/journal.htm). The health brief titled,"Energy Up" A Novel Approach to the Weight Management of Inner-City Teens," describes the positive results of this school-based, nutrition and fitness pilot program.
The research gathered shows that the "Energy Up" program works and is successful in dealing with behavioral issues of adolescent girls. The program under review took place at an all girl, parochial high school in New York City during the school year of 2003-2004. Participants in "Energy Up" lost a significant amount of weight. Obese girls lost the most weight while normal weight girls gained what was expected for their age. The girls changed their lifestyle by eating better, exercising more and building self-esteem.
Unlike other obesity prevention programs, "Energy Up" is not based on the health belief model which states that teens are unhealthy because they don't know certain behaviors are harmful. Instead, this novel program identifies why teens engage in unhealthy behaviors, specifically overeating, and acknowledges that many young people overeat when they know it is bad for them. "Energy Up" looks at causes, as opposed to being reactionary.
The program frames overeating within the realm of food addiction, something that no other American school based program does. Studies show that binge eating triggers the same neurological pathways as drug addiction, so Voltage's theories are rooted in science. Furthermore, recent studies of carbohydrate consumption support that these foods affect satiety, and can trigger over eating.
The corner stone of "Energy Up" is the self-esteem component. Almost all other programs look at low self-esteem as the result of obesity, rather than the cause. "Energy Up" connects poor self-esteem with overeating, which is an entirely new concept in medical literature. Dr. Lynn Gettleman Chehab states, "I can't emphasize enough that there really is nothing remotely like EU out there."