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Innovative Project to Reduce Childhood Obesity and Increase Fitness


Madison WI - November 14, 2008 - Challenges related to childhood obesity, poor diet and lack of fitness have been regularly featured in the news.  Childhood obesity has tripled since 1980, raising the troubling possibility that today's young people may be the first generation of Americans to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.  Heavy use of sugary drinks and lack of physical activity are two major causes. About 22% of Dane County 7th-12th graders are overweight or obese, and the rate is significantly higher among Black, Hispanic, Hmong and Native American youth.  

To help change this, Public Health Madison and Dane County has joined with Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin (GHC-SCW) and Dane County Dairy Promotion to create an innovative award program that recognizes and rewards efforts to provide kids with healthier eating and exercise opportunities.

Community organizations that provide free or very low cost services to Dane County youth were invited to participate.  Special effort was made to reach after school programs, where tight budgets and other factors can make it challenging to offer nutritious meals and snacks.  Participating organizations created a plan to address the causes of childhood obesity by improving meals and snacks, educational programs, and expanded fitness activities.  Public Health and their partners will provide consultation and resources over the next six months to help organizations carry out their plans and sustain the improvements.   Sponsorship of the program by GHC-SCW will allow participating organizations to receive exciting prizes next spring for their efforts.  Dane County Dairy Promotion will supply the sites with milk.  

A special awards ceremony will take place in April of 2009 to recognize the efforts of this year's participating organizations:

  • Cambridge Youth Center
  • Cottage Grove Parks and Recreation
  • Deerfield Community Center
  • Mount Horeb Youth Center
  • After School Clubs, Inc - Oregon
  • Sun Prairie Youth Center
  • Karate America - Sun Prairie
  • Bayview Foundation/Neighborhood Center - Madison
  • Bridge Lake Point Waunona Neighborhood Center - Madison
  • East Madison Community Center - Madison
  • Kennedy Heights Community Center - Madison
  • Partners in Parenting Family Resource Center - Madison

According to Emily Curtis, Community Care Manager of GHC-SCW, "This project represents a cooperative partnership that is aligned with GHC-SCW's focus on health and wellness.  We are pleased to work with Public Health Madison and Dane County on this project to reduce childhood obesity and increase fitness".

Details on the date and time of the ceremony will be announced in February 2009.   



  • Kathy Andrusz, (608) 243-0315
  • Jeff Golden, (608) 243-0302