Schools, Health Leaders Focus On Fighting Obesity

New bipartisan legislation unveiled Tuesday targets the country’s obesity epidemic.

Studies have linked obesity to serious health risks like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The new piece of legislation is called the Healthy Choices Act, and it brings together the food industry, health care industry and government to fight obesity.

One aspect of the bill is to promote wellness in local schools, WISC-TV reported.

At Blessed Sacrament School in Madison, officials said wellness is already a top priority. The school has a wellness committee that makes sure children are getting as much activity as they can, as well as practicing healthy eating habits.

Blessed Sacrament primary unit teacher Nancy Schubert puts her first- through third-graders’ energy to good use by incorporating plenty of activity into their lessons.

“It helps the kids to focus and to do a better job with their math and just helps to center them,” said Schubert about the counting activity the students engage in for math class.

They count by fives or 10s while jumping up and down, spinning around and even dancing.

With these exercises, she said she’s not only focusing her students’ minds but also giving them tools to fight obesity.

Officials at University of Wisconsin Health said they hope the Healthy Choices Act will also give people tools to fight obesity.

“The data is alarming and we’re at the point where people are saying enough is enough,” said Donna Katen-Bahensky, CEO and president of UW Hospitals and Clinics. “We’ve got to resolve this problem whether I’m in farming, I’m in education or I’m in health care. It is costing this country a tremendous amount of money.”

The legislation is aimed at reversing the obesity epidemic, but officials stress that it needs to be a group effort, and children have to be a main target.

“Every family, every school, every community can really make a difference in this over the long term,” said Katen-Bahensky.

Schubert isn’t new to the idea of implementing activity into the classroom. To her, it’s just another important lesson she hopes to pass on to her class.

“I think it’s giving them a lifelong gift,” said Schubert. “To not only help them to be lifelong learners, to learn about knowledge, but also to learn an awareness of themselves and how to take care of themselves and their needs.”