Chronic Disease Prevention and Control


CATCH Program – Coordinated Approach to Child Health

The CATCH Program brings schools, families, and communities together to teach children how to be healthy for a lifetime. CATCH is effective because healthy behaviors are reinforced through a coordinated approach - in the classroom, in the cafeteria, in physical education, at home and after school. CATCH includes a K-5 grade classroom health education curriculum that teaches children to identify, to practice, and to adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits. In the school cafeteria, food service personnel deliver meals with lower total fat and lower saturated fat and help coordinate healthy messages with the rest of the school. The CATCH physical education curriculum offers children of all abilities the opportunity to develop skills and appreciation for healthy activity.

CATCH schools in Illinois

CATCH trainers in Illinois

Being overweight or obese is a serious health concern for children and adolescents. Obesity reduces quality of life and increases risks for many serious health conditions, including coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, certain types of cancer and premature death. Overweight adolescent children have shown the presence of hypertension, early indications of coronary artery disease and other ominous signs. Being overweight or obese also has been associated with reduced quality of life, social stigmatization and discrimination. Children are viewed as overweight if their body mass index (BMI) falls between the 85th and 94th percentile for their age and are considered obese above the 95th percentile.

The most recent data (2007) from the National Survey of Children’s Health, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicate that:

  • One in three Illinois children is overweight or obese
  • One in five Illinois children are obese
  • A reversal in this trend of increasing weight in children and adolescents is needed or this generation may be the first in the nation’s history that has a life expectancy less than their parents.

CATCH provides a comprehensive approach to this public health crisis across multiple settings and sectors that can change individual nutrition and physical activity behaviors and the environments and policies that affect these behaviors. The Illinois Department of Public Health has funded elementary schools since 2004 to implement CATCH and reached more than 50,000 students and their families.


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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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