Press Release

April 3, 2008


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

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

FORSYTH, Ill. – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director, today announced at Maroa-Forsyth Grade School that 11 additional schools in Illinois will begin implementing the CATCH Program – Coordinated Approach to Child Health. Today’s announcement continues Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s efforts to address the obesity problem by affecting children’s 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 with help them live longer, healthier lives.”

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.

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.
“We're excited to be implementing the CATCH program for our students. Students who learn about nutrition, physical fitness and other healthy habits in grade school will be able to use that information the rest of their lives. These students will also take these messages home to share with their families, encouraging them to lead healthier life styles and hopefully create a healthier community,” said Rennie Cluver, Maroa-Forsyth Grade School principal.

The Illinois CATCH program initiative was implemented in January 2004 by the Department 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 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 11 schools, a total of 102 schools in Illinois are currently funded for the CATCH Program. Grants to implement the CATCH program at the 11 additional schools total $49,600, with Maroa-Forsyth Grade School receiving $5,200.

The following is a list of schools implementing CATCH for the 2008-09 school year.

  • Early Learning Center – Effingham
  • Froberg Elementary School – Rockford
  • Lincoln Elementary School – DeKalb
  • Lincoln Elementary School – Macomb
  • Lincoln Elementary School – Plainfield
  • Maroa-Forsyth Grade School – Forsyth
  • McCarty Elementary School - Aurora
  • Prairieland Elementary School – Normal
  • Southeast Elementary School – Sycamore
  • South Side Grade School – Effingham
  • West Side Grade School – Effingham

idph online home
idph online home

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