miami_childrens_hospital_web.jpgMore than four in 10 (41.7 percent) of Palm Beach County students do not exercise to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight. Sixty-one percent do not eat less food, fewer calories, or low-fat foods to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight.

Those were among the findings in the Centers for Disease Control’s 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System report.

Now Miami Children’s Hospital announced that it is addressing the obesity problem through a partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County and HealthTeacher.

The initiative willl give about 12,443 kindergarten through high school teachers access to HealthTeacher’s on-line health education curriculum and resources.

The goal of the partnership is improving the health literacy of students in more than 187 participating schools in the country’s 11th largest school district.

The institution said it is underwriting the curriculum, resources and teacher training aspects of the initiative for five years in hopes of empowering the teachers and their students to understand and make healthier choices.

It is hoping to expand the program to Miami-Dade and Broward counties later through similar partnerships.

“Education and good health go hand in hand,” Dr. Narendra Kini, president/CEO of Miami Children’s Hospital, said in a statement announcing the initiative.

“When children learn about health and safety practices, they are empowered to take ownership of their own health status and bring important information home to family and friends,” Kini said.  “It is our goal to advance wellness information in our area schools in hopes that these important messages will serve as building blocks for better community health.”

By integrating Health-Teacher into every school in The School District of Palm Beach County, Miami Children’s Hospital can extend their reach beyond the efforts of their school nurse and mobile health units program, the statement said.

The hospital said much high-risk health behavior often is established during childhood and adolescence and extends into adulthood;  but it can be addressed and prevented with proper education.

A 2010 report by Trust for America’s Youth and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked Florida 13th in the U.S. for obese and overweight children, up from 17th in 2009. Some 18.3 percent of Florida’s youth aged 10-17 were deemed overweight.

Florida was among 30 states in the study where the childhood obesity rate was reaching epidemic proportions.

To learn more about the partnership, visit