For Immediate Release: November. 6, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – One of the few times of the year Vermont students tout the benefits of turning off the television is during the Governor’s Fit and Healthy Kids (Fall and Spring) Challenges.
Now in its fourth year, the program rewards kids for the creative ways they Move More, Eat More Colors and Turn it Off (the television) as part of the statewide Fit & Healthy Kids initiative.
This year’s Fall Challenge started yesterday and runs through Nov. 9. Last year, more than 800 students from 75 schools participated by finding creative ways to eat healthier and exercise more including pumpkin picking, raking leaves, walking the dog, yard work, yoga, hiking, herding cows and jumping on a trampoline.
“We have a childhood obesity epidemic nationwide and watching television, eating unhealthy foods and not getting enough exercise is the perfect storm that creates and fuels this problem,” said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. “The Fit and Healthy Kids Challenge is one way – and one time of the year - that the State of Vermont and our students fight back.”
According to the 2007 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which tracks feedback from more than 8,400 students, more than one third (36 percent) spend three or more hours a school day watching television, playing video games, or playing on the computer for fun.
Ten percent spend five or more hours per school day watching television or playing computer games.
Compounding the problem is the lack of physical activity and a proper diet that coincides with passive viewing and eating unhealthy foods and snacks. According to national statistics, 33% of high school students do not participate in sufficient vigorous physical activity, 72% of high school students do not attend daily physical education classes, and only 24% of children (2 to 19 years) eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.
The Fit & Healthy Kids initiative, created by Gov. Jim Douglas in 2003, is a comprehensive, statewide approach aimed at transforming schools and communities into places where making healthy lifestyle choices is easy.
The Fit and Healthy Kids Challenge is held each year in the Spring and Fall and includes an awards ceremony honoring students and schools creativity and initiative at the Statehouse in Montpelier. The Turtle Fur Company, based in Vermont, is donating prizes.
For more information about Fit & Healthy Kids and the Challenge visit: http://healthvermont.gov/family/fit_healthykids.aspx.