TROY – As if childhood obesity in and of itself weren’t enough of a problem, the condition is known to contribute to a variety of serious health risks.
Some are familiar: sleep disorders, asthma, orthopaedic and heart problems, high blood pressure, gastric reflux and Type 2 diabetes. Others have less familiar but very scary names like dyslidemia (an abnormal amount of fat and cholesterol in the blood) and acanthosis nigricans (discolored areas on the skin). Studies have also shown that being overweight can be a risk factor for depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Childhood obesity is a major concern in Montgomery County, where childhood obesity rates are higher than state and national averages. The FirstHealth Montgomery County School Health Centers will soon launch a new program to address this serious problem, and the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation will direct the proceeds of its May 4 Spring Event fundraiser toward the program’s support.
According to Tricia Webb, a Foundation Board member and president of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Gina Smith, the family nurse practitioner who leads the School Health Centers team, made a convincing case for Foundation support during a recent presentation to the Board.
“Gina came in to talk to us and was just wonderful,” Webb says. “The Board was really excited when they saw all the School Health Centers do for the county. The program is just a wonderful asset for the county.”
The proposed initiative to address childhood obesity in Montgomery County is based on a successful program called “Energize” that is already under way in Wake County. It will target middle school students with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than the 85 percentile, a benchmark that meets the medical definition of overweight.
Many Montgomery County middle schoolers fall well within that range.
“Addressing childhood obesity is certainly one of our highest priorities at the FirstHealth Montgomery County School Health Centers,” says Smith. “With the help of the Montgomery County School nurses, we have collected body mass index (BMI) data for all students in the Montgomery County Schools annually since 2008. Although there have been many collaborative efforts to decrease the incidence of childhood obesity in Montgomery County, in 2012, 45 percent of the students were still overweight or obese. This school year, for students who are registered at the School Health Centers at East and West Middle schools, on average 32.5 percent of the students are overweight or obese, which is much lower than the overall rates of the general student population.”
In 90-minute sessions held two times a week over six weeks, the young program participants will have the opportunity for fun physical activities as well as nutrition education. They will also earn points for incentives, and their parents will get incentives to take part in several education sessions.
The innovative program will begin with four pilot sessions – two at each middle school – and will also include metabolic testing and healthy snacks.
“We truly hope to make a difference in the lives and health of the students and their families,” Smith says. “By encouraging children and parents to eat healthy and be physically active, we feel that everyone involved will benefit. The bottom line is that, by helping children to be as healthy as they can be, this will in turn help ensure that they can be successful in school and in life. Helping them to achieve optimal health is what this initiative is all about, and we are so grateful to the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation, the Montgomery County Schools and the community for helping us to make this a reality.”
2013 Spring Event will have Kentucky Derby theme
The 2013 FirstHealth Montgomery Spring Event that will raise money for the FirstHealth Montgomery County School Health Centers and the childhood obesity program will be held Saturday, May 4, a date with special significance for an event with a Kentucky Derby theme.
It’s Derby Day, and supporters of the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation will join horse-racing fans throughout the world in watching the annual “Run for the Roses.”
According to Tricia Webb, who is helping plan and execute the “Day at the Races” theme, the time for the annual fundraiser was moved up a bit to coincide with the race telecast. Activities and decorations will have a definite Derby decor with picket fences and boxwoods, “to give you that race track feel,” she says.
White linen table cloths will be covered with racing silks colors and centered with Derby signature roses.
In addition to the usual silent and live auctions, activities will include a Hat Parade with prizes awarded for the Tackiest, Most Creative and Most Elegant Derby headwear. Music for entertainment and dancing will be provided by the band House Call.
There will also be a Kentucky Derby drawing for those wanting to take a chance on drawing the name of the winning horse. Half of the winnings will go to the School Health Centers.
“I think it’s going to be fun,” Webb says. “It’s going to be different from what we have done in the past. It will be simple, but it will be elegant.”
FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation Spring Event
Tickets are $50 per person (black-tie optional). For more information, call (910) 571-5024.