The Principle of the PathI hadn’t planned on writing two back-to-back posts on childhood obesity. However, I was inspired to convey additional comments to this critical conversation by two coinciding events. The first happened months ago during one of my bi-monthly drives to San Angelo, Texas, for endocrine clinic. The second occurred recently, while I was on-call at Cook Children’s.

My drive to San Angelo takes about eight hours round trip. I usually listen to an audio book to pass the time as radio reception is spotty, and music can get boring. I don’t recall how I heard about the book, The Principle of the Path: How to get from where you are to where you want to be, but I decided to download it for the trip. The author, Andy Stanley, is a pastor and prolific writer. He has authored over twenty books on subjects ranging from leadership, ministry, and marriage. One particular thought from the book has remained with me since I heard it.

Direction-not intention-determines our destination

This single sentence, I believe, illuminates a very powerful key life lesson. There are paths we follow in our lives that have somewhat predictable outcomes. The decisions we make, about how we live, whether conscious or unconscious, move us toward or away from these predictable outcomes. I underline predictable because those are the occurrences that we can actually strive for, or do something to prevent them from happening.

This powerful concept came back to me most recently, while again on call. I encountered three hospitalized adolescents with type 2 diabetes. Each of these teens, due to multiple unintended wrong decisions, has now joined the nearly 18 million people, most older than 60, diagnosed with this potentially debilitating disease. I don’t believe that any of these young people could have imagined that their behaviors would eventually lead them to become morbidly obese (body weight more than 270 lbs in most teens) or much less to have to begin multiple, daily injections of insulin. Sadly, the end-result of their own decisions moved them along the path they chose, which led to this tragic outcome.

The recent Biggest Loser finale highlighted examples of real people changing their life path. Michael Ventrella began his transformation at 526 lbs and lost over 50% of his body weight to win this season’s competition. Erik Chopin departed from the path that led him to win the Biggest Loser in 2006. He returned to old habits and regained almost the entire 214 lbs lost during his competition.

The journey for these three young patients will be very hard. The diabetes care team here at Cook Children’s and I met with them and their families during their hospitalization. We equipped them with diabetes education and a care plan, a proven combination towards better health. However, their immediate future remains uncertain. Will they choose to begin following a new path? If so, will they be able to persevere and stay on the right course? I don’t know the answer to these questions because this outcome is entirely up to them. I will remain hopeful and at the ready, along with the Cook Children’s Diabetes team, to provide these children and their families with medical care and encouragement, if they so choose.