NEW: Leaders to Discuss Childhood Obesity Next Week
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Ocean State leaders—innovators in the fields of education, government, business, and health care—will attend an all-day event on July 25 called the Rhode Island Children’s Wellness Summit. Organized by Rhode Island First Lady Stephanie Chafee, an honorary Shape Up RI chairperson, and Shape Up RI Founder and Chairman Rajiv Kumar, M.D., the Rhode Island Children’s Wellness Summit is one day of thought and action designed to promote comprehensive wellness among children through a statewide engagement campaign that promotes physical activity, healthy eating, conservation, reading, and good citizenship. The Hassenfeld Family Foundation is the event’s lead sponsor. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is also a major sponsor of this event.
Shape Up RI, the most successful statewide healthy eating and weight loss competition in the nation, has helped more than 75,000 Rhode Island adults decrease weight and related health conditions by increasing physical activity and eating more fruits and vegetables. Shape Up RI Founder and Chairman Rajiv Kumar, M.D. believes his Shape Up Kids program can have the same impact on elementary school students.
“This event will be an unprecedented gathering of Rhode Island community and business leaders,” said Dr. Kumar. “Experts from a diverse array of disciplines concerned with childhood health and wellness will all be heard at the Rhode Island Children’s Wellness Summit.”
In September 2009, Dr. Kumar designed a Shape Up Kids prototype program called “Walk the World” in order to take on youth inactivity in Rhode Island. Equipped with digital pedometers, three fifth-grade classes—one each from Paul Cuffee School in Providence, Veterans Memorial Elementary School in Central Falls and St. Andrew’s School in Barrington—tested the elementary school application of Shape Up RI's model in three learning environments: charter, public, and private respectively.
Dr. Rena Wing, director of the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital, and researchers at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, evaluated the results and concluded that Shape Up Kids motivated healthier fitness and eating habits for participants and their families. 81% of participants indicated that the competition encouraged them to walk more. 73% reported that they now enjoy exercising more. Parents and family members also reported walking more as a result of the program.
“Along with health benefits,” Dr. Kumar explained, “the ‘Walk the World’ Shape Up Kids pilot delivered educational and enrichment value, teaching students about the geography, history, and culture of destinations all over the world.”
Dr. Kumar added, “Participants ‘visited’ these far-flung locales virtually by counting pedometer steps, logging data, and tracking progress.”
In 2010, 60 Central Falls students participated in a second pilot program and in 2011, 600 students from Providence County participated in a third, with similar results in both cases. This fall, a fourth pilot will challenge fifth-graders at schools in three Rhode Island towns including Providence and Central Falls.
A total of 550 children will participate in the Shape Up Kids competition from September 28 through November 9.
“One of the primary objectives of the Rhode Island Children’s Wellness Summit,” said Dr. Kumar, “is to explore statewide implementation of the Shape Up Kids program.”
He concluded, “Shape Up RI has assisted thousands of Rhode Island adults with improving their health and wellness. Stephanie Chafee and I see the Rhode Island Children’s Wellness Summit as a way to accelerate the process of delivering those benefits to children.”
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