Teenage obesity in the New Bedford area and across the nation is an epidemic. Kids who push the scale 35 pounds overweight are considered obese. Weight Watchers is doing something they hope will help by offering free memberships to teenagers.

Teens between the ages of 13 and 17 can join Weight Watchers at no cost for six weeks during the summer of 2018. The company said it wants to help young people develop good habits at a critical age. By the end of 2020, it aims to have five million young people in Weight Watchers.

According to Mass in Motion, more than half of adults and one in four high school and middle school students in Massachusetts are overweight or obese. It's a startling statistic. Here are some more: In Massachusetts in 2011, black adults were 43-percent more likely to be obese, and Hispanic adults were 40-percent more likely to be obese than white adults.

More than three-fourths of adults in Massachusetts are not eating the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Only 14-percent of high school students in Massachusetts report eating the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Only 28-percent of middle school students ate three or more fruits and vegetables the day before the survey.

In the past 10 years, the percentage of adults in Massachusetts with diabetes has increased 28-percent (5.8 in 2000 vs. 7.4 in 2010).

According to a recent study published in the journal Obesity, over $3.5 billion of medical expenses in Massachusetts is because of teenage and adult obesity.

Weight Watchers is trying its best to reverse these numbers while shedding its reputation as a diet and weight-loss company and recast itself as a health and wellness brand that helps people lead healthy lives.

Oprah Winfrey, who owns a 10-percent stake in the company, sits on the board and hopes this new offer will help obese teenagers, here and nationwide.

(Phil Paleologos is the host of "The Phil Paleologos Show" heard Monday through Friday from 6-10 a.m. on WBSM.)

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