Press Release

July 25, 2007


State public health director announces additional funding to combat childhood obesity

 CATCH – Coordinated Approach to Child Health to be implemented in 11 more schools throughout the state  

CORTLAND, Ill. – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, announced today at Cortland Elementary School that 11 additional schools in Illinois, including Cortland, will receive funding to implement the CATCH program – Coordinated Approach to Child Health. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued grants totaling $54,300 to local health departments, school districts and community based organizations to be used in implementing the program, which builds an alliance of parents, teachers, child nutrition personnel, school staff and community partners to teach children and their families how to be healthy for a lifetime. There are now 51 schools in Illinois participating in CATCH.

“We are facing an obesity epidemic across the nation and here in Illinois. In a recent Illinois survey, almost 40 percent of 8-year-olds surveyed were already overweight. Children who are overweight have a greater risk of developing diabetes and other chronic illnesses that will last the rest of their lives,” said Dr. Whitaker. “By implementing programs such as CATCH, we teach our kids about the importance of physical activity and the benefits of eating healthy and how both with help them live longer, healthier lives.”

Being overweight is a serious health concern for children and adolescents. Data from two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1976–1980 and 2003–2004) show the prevalence of overweight is increasing:

  • Children aged 2–5 years, prevalence increased from 5 percent to almost 14 percent;
  • Children aged 6–11 years, prevalence increased from 6.5 percent to almost 19 percent;
  • Children aged 12–19 years, prevalence increased from 5 percent to 17.4 percent.

The four CATCH components include physical education, classroom curriculum, school nutrition and family activities to reinforce positive healthy behaviors throughout a child's day and make it clear that good health and learning go hand in hand.

“I am excited our Cortland Elementary students will have the opportunity to benefit from the CATCH program. They will have more opportunities to learn about a healthy lifestyle, nutrition and exercise. This program gives our students and staff more resources and support. We are delighted to be a part of it,” said Cortland Elementary School Principal Kimberly Lyle.

“The CATCH program is a wonderful opportunity for the Health Department to work together with local elementary schools to promote healthy habits for young children,” said Karen Grush, Public Health Administrator at the DeKalb County Health Department.

The Illinois CATCH program initiative was implemented in January 2004 by IDPH to promote healthy eating and physical activity among elementary schoolchildren. Nineteen pilot schools were selected to participate based on: current cardiovascular health, obesity, diabetes and environmental program efforts within the community; previous involvement in similar types of efforts through IDPH’s Health and Wellness Initiative grant program; an expressed interest in the CATCH program; and geographical distribution in the state. Schools were given $5,000 to implement the program curriculum, attend training and host a family fun activity.

Physical education classes at these schools were observed prior to CATCH training and again 6-12 months after implementation of CATCH to measure the effectiveness of the CATCH physical education component at their school. Follow-up evaluations completed at the end of the 2005 school year showed that moderate to vigorous physical activity in physical education classes increased from a baseline of around 46 percent to almost 61 percent of class time.

In 2006, 21 schools implemented CATCH and the following is a list of schools implementing CATCH for the 2007-08 school year.

  • Farmingdale Elementary School – Pleasant Plains
  • Ellington School – Quincy
  • McAuliffe Elementary School – Chicago
  • Plamondon Elementary School – Chicago
  • Lowell Elementary School – Chicago
  • New Sullivan School – Chicago
  • Cortland Elementary School – Cortland
  • Prairiewood Elementary School – Woodstock
  • Sandburg Elementary School – Springfield
  • Dubois Elementary School – Springfield
  • Ridgely Elementary School – Springfield

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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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