Federal grant targets childhood obesity

TUPELO – Nearly $400,000 in federal grants will help HealthWorks! expand its efforts to slim down Mississippi’s children.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker announced the $399,350 two-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control for the SHAPE – Strengthening Health and Physical Education – program on Friday.
“SHAPE is the result of over five years of hard work in the Senate and the House,” Wicker, a Republican from Tupelo, told a group of Carver Elementary second-graders who were visiting HealthWorks!
With the money, the children’s health education center will be able to take outreach programs focusing on nutrition and physical activity out to the schools and serve as a clearinghouse for best practices.
Healthworks! also will connect the efforts with evaluation so successful programs can be quantified and hopefully replicated in other places.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have a wonderful resource to share with schools,” said Donna Loden, the imaginator of awesome experiences, or education director of HealthWorks!
The problem of obesity, especially among children, is especially urgent in efforts to slow the growth of health care costs, Wicker said.
“We spend $100 billion a year in health care costs directly related to obesity,” Wicker said. “That’s a real drain on health resources. This is central to getting a solution to health care expenses.”
HealthWorks! will begin laying the groundwork for the SHAPE program this fall and hopes to start visiting schools next year, said Dean Hancock, executive director of the Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi, which spearheaded the effort to build HealthWorks!
The CREATE Foundation will serve as the fiscal agent for the grant.

Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@djournal.com.

Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal