Obesity Causes and Effects to be taught in Schools

By: Faran Fronczak, Alyssa Trussoni
By: Faran Fronczak, Alyssa Trussoni

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The American Medical Association is calling for new legislation to require schools to teach obesity prevention. Something many would say is needed here, since almost 3 out of every 10 kids in Winnebago County are obese.

Jonah Garcia, a Rockford 5th grader says, "Well, they don't really teach about eating habits that much at my school." Jonah may not know what child obesity is, but based on recent statistics, he probably sees it everyday.

Ahmed Mohud, a stateline teacher says, "This one I saw today, he's too fat and too big. He walks up the stairs to get to the third floor, and he's weak and he's tired all the time."

The American Medical Association says the problem is so bad there should be a law requiring schools to teach students the causes and effects of obesity. "Teachers need to know that this is a very serious issue and we need to be proactive and do something instead of maybe just present the information to the kids and just thinking that we did our job at that point," says Tyler Fagan, Dean of Physical Education, Health, and Wellness for District 205.

"If the schools could do it, they would be doing it,"says Christy Eldridge, Manager for Outpatient Rehabilitation Services at OSF St. Anthony.

OSF St. Anthony Hospital is one step ahead. It launched "The Catch Program" this summer, which is designed to educate parents and kids how to stay healthy together. "I feel like people have their hearts in the right places, but I feel that the medical center has some of the different expertise that we can combine some of those different disciplines to help deal with the psychosocial issues, the nutrition issues, the exercise issues. All those different factors that surrond this problem," says Eldridge.

The Illinois Youth Survey says in Winnebago County, 28% of kids in Junior High and High School beleive they're overweight, and OSF wants to reduce that number. Health professionals say obesity is something very difficult to accept, and parents may be a little reluctant to tackle the problem with their family.

Registration for The Catch Program is going on now. The program will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays for 6 weeks from 4pm to 5pm. To register for the class or for more information, call: (815)395-4505.

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