Harris County Hospital District Health Centers Tackle Weight Issue

HOUSTON (July 8, 2010) – Obesity is a growing problem among children, but the Harris County Hospital District has put in place a program that educates entire families. 

While some children will be spending their summer indoors playing video games, hundreds of Houston kids and their parents will be learning the skills and knowledge to make healthy lifestyle decisions. 

This summer, nine of HCHD’s 13 health centers are offering the nine-week Childhood Nutrition and Exercise Program. 

The program takes a family approach with the unique twist that requires parents to attend with their child. 

“We want to touch the whole family,” said Karla Phillips, health educator at HCHD’s People’s Health Center. “Parents are the decision makers, and if we get them on board with making healthy decisions, the whole family benefits.” 

During the first hour of the two-hour class, health educators involve the group in activities and discussion about healthy decisions ranging from planning healthy meals to reading food labels to using the food guide pyramid. 

The second hour is dedicated to exercise. 

“We play soccer, basketball, run around the track or even play games with a giant parachute,” said Yesenia Mora, senior health educator at Baytown Health Center. “The key is to get the kids and their parents moving.” 

While several children and their parents have lost weight while in the program, health educators stress that they’re focused on teaching the family how to make healthier lifestyle decisions. 

“I’ve learned a lot — from portion control to eating vegetables and fruit,” said Kevin Villegas, a fifth grader. “I like to play soccer and that counts as exercise.” 

Because of Kevin’s dedication, he lost nine pounds last summer and decided to come back for another session.

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