Governor's Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan Project Completes Plan to Fight Childhood Obesity

Contact: James McCurtis (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

February 24, 2009

LANSING - The Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan project workgroup, led by the Michigan departments of Community Health (MDCH) and Education (MDE), unveiled a new strategic policy agenda today designed to reduce childhood obesity in the state by promoting physical activity and healthy food choices.

"This five-year plan is designed to fight childhood obesity head-on by increasing access to physical activity and healthy food choices for Michigan's youngest citizens," Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said. "Improving the health of all Michiganians begins with improving the health of our kids."

In 2007, Governor Granholm asked Michigan's surgeon general to head the Michigan Childhood Obesity Prevention Workgroup, which developed a five-year strategic plan. Among the recommendations to be addressed in the first year include:

- adding height, weight, and body mass index capabilities to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry;

- incorporating safe routes to school and allowing safe travel opportunities for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, and motor vehicle drivers;

- coordinating school health programs;

- improving access to fresh, healthy food at food retailers in underserved areas;

- providing Medicaid services to help prevent childhood obesity; and

- amending the revised school code to separate and strengthen both health education and physical education.

Other recommendations that will be pursued in years two through five include recess policies, school breakfast expansion, school garden programs, farmers markets and other retail outlets with fresh food, licensed child-care physical activity requirements and incentives for serving fresh fruits and vegetables.

A newly formed independent coalition, Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan: Advocates for Healthy Weight in Children, will be responsible for implementing the five-year plan. The coalition, comprised of 80 organizations across the state, will work with the departments of Community Health, Agriculture, Education, Human Services, Energy, Labor & Economic Growth, and Transportation to help lower childhood obesity.

According to the 2005 Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 33 percent of students in grades 9 to 12 did not participate in the recommended amount of weekly physical activity, 36 percent watched three or more hours of television on an average school day, and only 38 percent attended physical education class one or more days during an average school week. During the past four decades, obesity rates have soared among all age groups, more than quadrupling among children ages 6 to 11.

The Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan project was made possible through a one-year, $100,000 grant from the National Governors Association. Michigan was one of 15 states to receive funding through the Healthy Kids, Healthy America program. The project consisted of an inventory of childhood obesity efforts, formation of a workgroup charged with creating a statewide policy agenda, and mini-grants of $25,000 each to Lansing, Jackson, and Taylor school districts to establish a nutrition and physical activity policy that would help reduce childhood obesity.

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