Obesity prevention program aimed at second graders

April 9, 2003 (San Diego, CA) -- Some 20 years ago, children would hike, play basketball, and leave the house to play only coming back when dinner was ready.

Now, in many communities, open spaces have been filled with town houses and condominiums, playgrounds have been closed due to fear of possible litigation, and the increasing threats to child safety have put an end to young people exploring to their heart's content. In the 21st century, children eat more and exercise less.

Unfortunately, the computer and television have become the best friends of too many of our children. The result is not only sociologically significant it is also physically deadly.

The Centers for Disease Control now estimates that more than 60 percent of American adults are overweight, while almost one out of three is obese. In the last 20 years, the proportion of overweight children between ages 6 and 19 has tripled, to nearly one of every three kids. In December, 2001, Surgeon General David Satcher stated that 300,000 deaths per year are associated with overweight and obesity, and projected the annual public health cost of this condition at $117 billion, due to the life-threatening complications of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, kidney failure and many other ailments.

A groundbreaking program in Colorado is tackling this problem head-on. An integrated science education enrichment program (Program ENERGY) has been established to reduce the rate of obesity and type 2 diabetes in elementary school students. Program Energy is funded by the National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health (NCRR/NIH) Science Education Partnership Award " Shaping Health Behaviors Through Science Enrichment." Past research has demonstrated that prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes can be achieved by healthy eating and active living. Teaching children to incorporate the elements of a healthy lifestyle is necessary to reduce these two prev

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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