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FOR RELEASE: June 19, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Action for Healthy Oklahoma Kids Begins Children’s Nutrition and Fitness Push

Health care professionals are faced with an alarming trend of obesity and overweight among children and adolescents that could lead to long-term poor health consequences caused by poor eating and physical activity patterns. Today, there are more than twice as many overweight children and almost three times as many overweight adolescents as in 1980, say officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

“According to the 2001 Surgeon General’s Call to Action, overweight issues among children and adolescents are generally caused by lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these two behaviors,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch.

A state initiative has been formed to mirror the national Action for Healthy Kids initiative that seeks to improve the health of children by creating healthier school environments. The state counterpart, Action for Healthy Oklahoma Kids (AHOK), was formed to strategize and implement programs that will help reduce obesity among Oklahoma children. AHOK maintains an expert panel that is available to speak at formal and informal community events, conferences, workshops, PTA/PTO meetings and other forums to explain ways that parents and concerned citizens can improve nutrition and physical activity in schools.

Co-chairs of the AHOK initiative are OSDH Director of Child and Adolescent Health Division Beth Ramos, and Judy Duncan, Health and Physical Education Coordinator for the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The AHOK team members represent a variety of health, education, fitness and nutrition organizations throughout the state. AHOK adopted the following

Healthy Schools Summit Commitment to Change goals for the state initiative:

  • To provide age-appropriate and culturally sensitive instruction in health education and physical education that helps students develop the knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviors to adopt, maintain and enjoy healthy eating habits and a physically active lifestyle.
  • To provide food options that are low in fat, calories and added sugars, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy foods, and
  • To encourage the use of school facilities for physical activity programs offered by the school and/or community-based organizations outside of school hours.

“To accomplish these goals, AHOK will address the fundamental need to incorporate nutrition and physical education within the school environment. Components of the AHOK campaign include a broad media campaign, public education, and the development of a pilot program in selected elementary schools,” Beitsch said.

For further information about AHOK, visit this Web site: www.actionforhealthykids.com or contact the OSDH Child and Adolescent Health Division at 405/271-4471.

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