Marshfield, Wisconsin, Decides It Takes a Whole Village to Raise a Healthy Child

Jul 02, 2002, 01:00 ET from Marshfield Clinic

    MARSHFIELD, Wis., July 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Alarmed at the rising number of
 overweight children and adults, and the staggering medical costs associated
 with obesity, doctors, educators, employers and community organizations in
 Marshfield, Wisconsin, have launched a Healthy Lifestyles Coalition to get
 adults and especially children to be physically fit and active.
     Marshfield Clinic Cardiologist Dr. Charles S. McCauley, one of the
 Coalition's founders, got interested when he saw a growing number of younger
 people with heart disease in his medical practice.  "We are super-sizing
 ourselves into an early grave," he said.
     Key to the Coalition's success will be the entire community's
 participation in coming up with changes and then implementing them.
     "Just telling people to lose weight or exercise more only works if people
 already are motivated to change," McCauley said.  "We want to change
 long-standing habits for large numbers of people.  That requires support of
 the whole community."
     Changes already in the works include offering more healthful food choices
 in school cafeterias and increased activity in physical education classes,
 according to David H. Smette, Ed.D., superintendent for the School District of
 Marshfield.  And an example of many possible small changes to improve
 lifestyle behaviors would include a proposal to ban handheld video games on
 school playgrounds.
     The community initiative is focusing on children because habits become
 engrained early on, McCauley explained.  Also, the number of overweight
 children has tripled during the past three years nationally.  "Hopefully, if
 children embrace a healthy lifestyle, they may encourage their parents to do
 so as well," he said.
     The Healthy Lifestyles Initiative also calls upon local businesses to
 participate in making changes.
     "Diseases associated with obesity and overweight, such as diabetes, high
 blood pressure, stroke and even cancer, are some of the key drivers of
 increased health care costs," McCauley said.  "Employers not only care about
 the health of their employees but they are also very concerned about rising
 insurance rates in part due to obesity-related diseases."
     In addition to funds from Marshfield Clinic, the Initiative is seeking
 funding from the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of
 Health.  McCauley and others plan to measure the effectiveness of their
 efforts and then offer the Initiative as a model to be duplicated in other
     Marshfield Clinic is one of the largest health-care providers in the U.S.,
 serving central, northern and western Wisconsin.  Marshfield Clinic's Research
 Foundation is known for many outstanding research projects, and is at the
 forefront of the international pursuit of genetic medicine.
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SOURCE Marshfield Clinic