Press Release
October 9, 2013
Melaney Arnold (217) 558-0500
Kelly Jakubek (312) 814-8198

Battling Obesity and Chronic Disease – State Health Director Walks to School

SPRINGFIELD – In recognition of International Walk to School Day, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck walked with his daughter to school today to set an example of how little steps can make a big difference in our health. Walk to School Day in the U.S. began in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for “walkable” communities.

“Having a ‘walkable’ community where kids can safely walk to school is a great way to help combat obesity in our youth,” said Dr. Hasbrouck. “Walking and bicycling to school enables children to incorporate the regular physical activity they need each day, while also forming healthy habits that can last a lifetime.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day. Physically active kids are more likely to become healthy, physically active adults.

The rates of obesity are rising in Illinois and across the country in certain populations. Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, creating a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea and cancer. It also can lead to social discrimination.

In 2011, 14.5 percent of Illinois children age 2 to 5 years were identified as overweight, and 11.6 percent as obese. That same year, 15.5 percent of Illinois high school students were identified as overweight, and 14.4 percent as obese.

Identifying safe routes to school is important in the safe implementation of walk or bike to school initiatives in communities. In 2012, Illinois received $7 million in federal grant funds to assist with the planning and development of safe routes to schools in communities all over Illinois.

Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck walking with his daughter to school.
Video Icon 1 min (59MB) (requires Windows Media Player®)

For information on the Illinois Safe Routes to School Program go to

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
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