40 percent of 8-year-olds in Illinois already overweight
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[November 20, 2008]
SPRINGFIELD -- Dr. Damon T.
Arnold, state public health director, announced Wednesday that 10
additional schools in Illinois will begin implementing the CATCH
program. The name stands for Coordinated Approach to Child Health.
The announcement continues Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich's efforts to
address the obesity problem by changing children's and parents'
attitudes and behaviors toward nutrition and physical activity.
"We are facing an obesity epidemic across the nation and here in
Illinois," Dr. Arnold said. "In a recent Illinois survey, almost 40
percent of 8-year-olds surveyed were already overweight. Children
who are overweight have a greater risk of developing diabetes and
other chronic illnesses that will last the rest of their lives. I
applaud the governor's commitment to improving the health and
welfare of our children. By implementing programs such as CATCH, we
teach our kids about the importance of physical activity and the
benefits of eating healthy and how both will help them live longer,
A recent Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey showed that in 2003-2006, approximately 16.3
percent of children and adolescents age 2-19 were obese and 31.9
percent were overweight.
The CATCH program brings schools and families together to teach
children how to be healthy for a lifetime. The program is effective
because healthy behaviors are reinforced through a coordinated
approach -- in the classroom, in the cafeteria, in physical
education classes and at home.
The program includes a classroom health education curriculum for
kindergarten through fifth grade. This curriculum teaches children
to read and understand nutrition labels; learn how being overweight
can affect their heart, lungs and overall health; and understand how
to identify healthier food options in restaurants and at the store.
In the school cafeteria, food service personnel serve meals with
more fruits and vegetables and lower fat. The physical education
component teaches children different ways to be physically active in
their daily lives, either by themselves or with their friends and
The Illinois School for the Deaf will soon implement the program
also but will face a couple of unique differences from other
"The Illinois School for the Deaf is a boarding school, so we are
responsible for three meals a day. CATCH will help us teach and set
an example of good nutrition that these students can use the rest of
their lives," said Superintendent Marybeth Lauderdale. "The CATCH
program will also give us the opportunity to specifically address
exercise and nutrition. Our students don't automatically get the
peripheral learning that the rest of us take for granted. We hear
nutrition and exercise messages all the time, but these kids need to
see it to absorb it, and the CATCH program will give us the visuals
to do that."
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The Illinois CATCH program initiative was implemented in January
2004 by the Department of Public Health to promote healthy eating
and physical activity among elementary school children. Nineteen
pilot schools were selected to participate, based on current
cardiovascular health, obesity, diabetes and environmental program
efforts within the community; previous involvement in similar types
of efforts through the department's Health and Wellness Initiative
grant program; an expressed interest in the CATCH program; and
geographical distribution in the state.
Physical education classes at these schools were observed prior
to CATCH training and again six to12 months after implementation to
measure the effectiveness of the physical education component.
Follow-up evaluations completed at the end of the 2005 school year
showed that moderate to vigorous physical activity in physical
education classes increased from a baseline of around 46 percent to
almost 61 percent of class time.
With the additional 10 schools, a total of 131 schools in
Illinois are currently funded for the CATCH program.
Department of Public Health
file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]