Health Team

Partnership fights obesity among Wake County children

Posted August 14, 2009 2:28 p.m. EDT
Updated August 17, 2009 12:10 p.m. EDT

— A partnership between a nonprofit and a hospital in Raleigh is teaching some Wake County students how to avoid obesity and weight-related problems, such as Type 2 diabetes.

The Poe Health Education Center conducts the education program at Rolesville Elementary School.

"It's a lot of hands-on activities," student Julia Steiner, 11, said.

Registered dietitian Natalie Taft teaches children to balance the energy they use in activities such as exercise with the food energy they consume.

"Then we talk a little more about identifying healthy foods, choosing healthier activities, staying away from things that are considered sedentary," Taft said.

Duke Raleigh Health, working through the Poe Center, has carried the program "Really Awesome Health" to several Wake County schools. School groups also make field trips to the Poe Center for classes.

The food pyramid is at the center of the program's message.

"My mom makes sure there are fruits and vegetables at the house," student Natalie Steiner, 9, said.

The Steiner girls shop with their mother and put back items with too many unhealthy ingredients – "sugar, carbohydrates and the fats," Julia described.

Over three years, Duke Raleigh Health compared the results of children in the program to those who were not.

"We've seen a marked decline in body mass index in children, certainly in selections of nutritional choices," said Carla Hollis, chief marketing and planning officer for Duke Raleigh Health.

Children in the program were also more physically active, she said.

Hollis said she hope the program will help put obesity and diabetes among children on a downward trend.