Press Release

June 5, 2009


State Public Health Director Announces Expansion of Program to Combat Childhood Obesity  

CATCH – Coordinated Approach to Child Health to be implemented in 11 additional schools throughout Illinois  

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, today announced that 11 additional schools in Illinois will begin implementing the CATCH program – Coordinated Approach to Child Health. With the expansion of the CATCH program, the state is continuing efforts to address the obesity problem by changing children’s and parents’ attitudes and behaviors toward nutrition and physical activity.

“There is a growing incidence of obesity among children across the nation and here in Illinois. Children and adolescents who are obese or overweight now are more likely to become obese as adults and also have a greater risk of developing diabetes and other chronic illnesses that will last their entire lives,” said Dr. Arnold. “We must be committed to improving the health and welfare of our children. By implementing programs, such as CATCH, we are teaching our kids the importance of physical activity and the benefits of eating healthy and ultimately how both will help them live longer, healthier lives.”

The most recent National 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. A CDC study found that approximately 80% of children who were overweight at aged 10–15 years were obese adults at age 25 years. According to the 2007 Illinois Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 13 percent of Illinois high school students are overweight or obese.

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 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 to 12 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 152 schools in Illinois have been funded for the CATCH Program. The following is a list of schools that will be implementing the CATCH program for the 2009-10 school year.

Cook County

  • Arnold Mireles Academy – Chicago
  • Irma C. Ruiz School – Chicago
  • Frederic Chopin Elementary School - Chicago

McHenry County

  • Verda Dierzen Early Learning Center - Woodstock

Rock Island County:

  • Hillcrest Elementary School – East Moline

Kane County:

  • John Stewart Elementary – Elburn
  • Blackberry Creek Elementary School – Elburn

Kane/Kendall Counties:

  • McDole Elementary School - Montgomery

Tazewell County:

  • LaSalle Elementary School - Creve Coeur

Whiteside County:

  • East Coloma Elementary School – Rock Falls

Henry County:

  • Cambridge Elementary School – Cambridge

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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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