Expanded Building Healthy Communities program to fight childhood obesity in 28 Michigan schools this fall

breakfastgirlOne in three children in the nation is obese or overweight, and the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in just 30 years. Frightening statistics like these encouraged the formation of the Building Healthy Communities program between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Center for School Health at Wayne State University and the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

Since its inception in 2009, the comprehensive, school-wide program has helped fight childhood obesity for 35,000 students in 83 schools.

Recently, the Building Healthy Communities program announced an unprecedented partnership to promote healthy lifestyles to schoolchildren and encourage healthy behaviors from an early age. The expanded partnership adds two organizations to the mix: the United Dairy Industry of Michigan and the University of Michigan.

All partners in the program have a long history of childhood obesity prevention programs, with components ranging from healthy eating and physical activity, to creating a healthy supportive school environment. The two new Building Healthy Communities partners will help the program be implemented in 28 new school buildings during the 2013-2014 school year and will help reach 12,500 students.

“The scope of this partnership is the first of its kind in Michigan designed specifically to help students in elementary and middle schools learn healthy behaviors and practice those lessons in an environment that makes the healthy choice the easy choice,” said Shannon Carney Oleksyk, a registered dietitian and healthy living adviser for BCBSM.

“Evidence shows that when children are healthier, they are more likely to succeed in the classroom and beyond. By encouraging kids to make healthy choices at a young age, the Building Healthy Communities program is laying the foundation for a healthier, stronger Michigan future.”

Marilyn Lieber, president and CEO of the Michigan Fitness Foundation, said “Building Healthy Communities is an important step in encouraging even more students to become healthy by helping students gain the knowledge, attitudes and skills to both eat well and be physically activity for life.”

With its public, private and nonprofit partners, the Building Healthy Communities program continues to show a positive impact on students’ making healthy choices.

Photo via Julian Lee

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