Program focuses on overweight Kane children

A nine-week program is designed to help overweight Kane children learn how to lead healthier lives.Called "KidShape," the program begins Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kane Middle School cafeteria and gymnasium.A total of 16 children in kindergarten through eighth grade have registered for the nationally recognized family-based weight management program. A parent or guardian must accompany their children to each session.Erin Lundeen, nurse for the Kane Elementary School and Kane Middle School, said the participating children will learn about "eating healthy" and "increasing physical activity."According to the Mayo Clinic, the rate of obesity has doubled for pre-schoolers and adolescents and has more than tripled for children ages 6 to 11.Lundeen said the "obesity epidemic" is "a cause for alarm" in Kane.Nearly half of the 268 students at the Kane Middle School have a "body mass index (BMI)" that indicates an overweight condition, Lundeen said. She said 222 of the 565 students in the elementary school are considered overweight based on their BMI. This figures to be 47 percent of the school enrollment, she said.Lundeen said statistics show that 34 percent of the U.S. children in kindergarten through eighth grade are considered overweight. She said Kane is "above the national average" for obesity.Lundeen blames the local "obesity epidemic" on the "sedimentary lifestyle" of children as well as their daily consumption of "soda and junk food."She said many children "sit and watch television or play video games" and are failing to "get out and exercise.""In some cases, there isn't any physical activity," she said.As a result of the "obesity epidemic" in Kane, Lundeen said she is seeing school children "with high blood pressure" and with indicators of diabetes and asthma. She said overweight children also face "self-esteem" issues.The KidShape program offered by the Highmark Foundation helps children and their families through better nutrition and increased physical activity. The program, which is supported by the Kane school administration, also is designed to improve self-esteem.See full article by purchasing the March 7 edition of The Kane Republican.