Press Release

November 19, 2008


State public health director announces expansion of program to combat childhood obesity

CATCH – Coordinated Approach to Child Health to be implemented
in 10 additional schools throughout the state, including the
Illinois School for the Deaf  

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director, today announced at 10 additional schools in Illinois will begin implementing the CATCH program – Coordinated Approach to Child Health. Today’s announcement continues Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s efforts to address the obesity problem by changing children’s and parents’ attitudes and behaviors toward nutrition and physical activity.

“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,” Dr. Arnold said. “I applaud the Governor’s commitment to improving the health and welfare of our children. 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 will help them live longer, healthier lives.”

A recent Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that in 2003-2006, approximately 16.3 percent of children and adolescents aged two through 19 were obese and 31.9 percent were overweight.

The CATCH program brings schools and families 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 classes and at home. CATCH includes a K-5 grade classroom health education curriculum that teaches children to read and understand nutrition labels, learn how being overweight can affect their heart, lungs and overall health, and how to identify healthier food options in restaurants and at the store. In the school cafeteria, food service personnel serve meals with more fruits and vegetables and lower fat. The CATCH physical education component teaches children different ways to be physically active in their daily lives, either by themselves or with their friends and family.

The Illinois School for the Deaf will soon implement the CATCH program, but will face a couple unique differences from other schools.

“The Illinois School for the Deaf is a boarding school, so we are responsible for three meals a day. CATCH will help us teach and set an example of good nutrition that these students can use the rest of their lives,” said Superintendent Marybeth Lauderdale. “The CATCH program will also give us the opportunity to specifically address exercise and nutrition. Our students don’t automatically get the peripheral learning that the rest of us take for granted. We hear nutrition and exercise messages all the time, but these kids need to see it to absorb it and the CATCH program will give us the visuals to do that.”

The Illinois CATCH program initiative was implemented in January 2004 by the Department to promote healthy eating and physical activity among elementary school children. 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 the Department’s Health and Wellness Initiative grant program; an expressed interest in the CATCH program; and geographical distribution in the state.

Physical education classes at these schools were observed prior to CATCH training and again six to12 months after implementation to measure the effectiveness of the physical education component. Follow-up evaluations completed at the end of the 2005 school year showed moderate to vigorous physical activity in physical education classes increased from a baseline of around 46 percent to almost 61 percent of class time.

With the additional 10 schools, a total of 131 schools in Illinois are currently funded for the CATCH Program. Grants to implement the CATCH program at the 10 additional schools total $44,400.

The following is a list of additional schools that will be implementing the CATCH program.

DeKalb County - $5,200

  • North Elementary School – Sycamore

Kane County - $5,200

  • John Shields Elementary School – Sugar Grove

Lawrence County - $8,000

  • Bridgeport Grade School – Bridgeport
  • Petty Elementary School – Sumner
  • Sumner Attendance Center – Sumner

Logan County - $5,200

  • Chester-East Lincoln Elementary School – Lincoln

McHenry County - $10,400

  • Briargate School – Cary
  • Prairie Hill School – Cary

McLean County - $5,200

  • Towanda Elementary School – Towanda

Morgan County - $5,200

  • Illinois School for the Deaf – Jacksonville

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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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