Reporting Lisa Cilli
HIALEAH (CBS4) – The Miami-Dade County School Board has joined the City of Hialeah’s fight against childhood obesity.
Earlier this summer, the second largest city in South Florida created the “Hialeah Healthy Families” initiative to combat child obesity and the school board has approved a resolution to endorse the initiative.
“Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the nation with the number of obese children and adolescents more than tripling in the past 30 years,” said Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman, who proposed the resolution.
Similar to most communities around the country the rates of obesity in Hialeah are rising with recent statistics showing 46-percent of children in Hialeah as overweight and 27-percent as obese. Compared to the national average of 32-percent, Hialeah has a higher percentage of children who are overweight.
In all of Miami-Dade County, a multi-site child care center study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and led by Dr. Ruby Natale at UM’s Miller School of Medicine reported 34-percent of children attending child care are overweight and 16-percent are obese.
These escalating rates of obesity in children and adolescents are of enormous public health significance. The impact of childhood obesity on children’s physical health includes increased risk for pre-diabetes, heart disease, as well as bone and joint problems. Statistics also show that children who are overweight are at a higher risk of remaining overweight in adulthood.
In response to this urgent public health concern, the City of Hialeah, with the support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Foundation, launched the community-wide campaign “Hialeah Healthy Families” to address the causes of childhood obesity and promote healthy eating and active living.
A Call to Action was developed by coalition of community partners, building on success stories such as the Safe Routes to Schools Program, the annual Walk Our Children to School event and school vending machine changes to name just a few.
The Safe Routes to Schools Program promotes walking and bicycling to school by making pedestrian routes safer and more appealing. The goal of the program is to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.
Changes to school vending machines have already begun across Miami-Dade County Public Schools with an emphasis on offering nutritious alternatives to sodas and candy. The new machines are already available at Hialeah Senior High School, Hialeah Miami Lakes Senior High and Westland Senior High.