Video: Ochsner Medical Center 'Drives' Mobile P.E. Class to New Orleans Schools in Fight Against Child Obesity

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 General News
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NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 12 It's Back to School time again andmore schools are reducing or eliminating physical education programs in lieuof academic curriculum. According to a national survey, nearly 22 percent ofBlack and Hispanic kids, ages four to 12, are overweight or obese. And, the2000 census indicated that the New Orleans population is 67 percent AfricanAmerican and has experienced an increase in Hispanics moving to the area.

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Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans is taking P.E. to schools with itsMobile Fitness Unit called On the Move. Ochsner's Elmwood Fitness Centerdeveloped a community outreach program to help fight a growing globalepidemic: 32 percent, or nine million American children, are now overweight.On the Move is equipped with child-sized workout equipment, staffed bytrainers, a nutritionist, and an Executive Chef, and is provided at no cost toNew Orleans-area schools.

On the Move will be launched at Orleans and Jefferson Parish publicschools in lower income neighborhoods. "We chose these schools for theirdiversity and location. Children of lower income families tend to suffer fromweight problems more often," explains Michael Heim, On the Move and YouthFitness Manager at Elmwood Fitness Center. "Our goal is to expose elementarystudents to activities early on that promote healthier behaviors."

Dr. Douglas Moodie, MD, Chairman of Pediatrics at Ochsner, explains thatthe driving force in developing On the Move was, "the growing childhoodobesity epidemic and continual reduction of P.E. classes in schools. We'reheaded in the wrong direction in our fight against pediatric obesity,particularly in Louisiana, where we have some of the highest adult andpediatric obesity rates and we're one of the least healthy states in thecountry." Moodie adds that "many schools have just 15 minutes two days a weekfor P.E. class, and a lot of schools don't have recess so children are sittingin classrooms for several hours without moving."

Physical education programs vary from school to school and "On the Moveoffers supervised physical activities much like what kids would do in a schoolgymnasium, and in other cases, the program serves as a supplement to P.E.classes and extracurricular activities," says Heim. "Currently, we have 10strength training machines and hope to add child-sized spinning bikes," saysHeim. The bus also includes two flat-screen televisions and air conditioning.

On the Move includes strength and cardiovascular "circuit" workouts,nutrition lectures, and heart-healthy cooking classes and demonstrations byElmwood's Executive Chef, and is designed to teach parents and kids how toincorporate healthier foods and behaviors into their lifestyle. On the Move'spilot program was launched in Spring 2008 with 4th and 5th graders at S.J.Green Charter School in Uptown New Orleans.

With parental permission, On the Move staff will collect data this Fall onthe children's blood pressure readings, resting heart rate, body fatpercentages, strength, flexibility and muscle mass, both before and aftergoing through the program. Funding for On the Move is provided in part by theFrost Foundation, Coca-Cola and the New Orleans Saints.

Visit and for moreinformation.To view the Multimedia News Release, go to:

SOURCE Ochsner Medical Center

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