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Capital City Health Leaders Target Childhood Obesity

By Tom Flanigan

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-888296.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – One out of three Florida kids between the ages of ten and seventeen is now overweight or obese. A statewide effort to change that kicked off in Tallahassee Monday, bringing together some of the area's top community health leaders.

All of the public health statistics point to an epidemic of childhood obesity in Florida, or you can just ask Rebecca Maguire with the state's Department of Health what she's seeing every day.

"We've got a family with a thirteen-year-old and an eighteen-year-old, both of whom want gastric bypass surgery, and I'm like YEEAHHH, you know? No way, no how!"

So the Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, the philanthropic arm of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Florida, called public health people like Maguire together. Executive Director Susan Towler says it's going to take a community effort.

"It really comes down to prevention, so we've got to change that mindset in families. Cultural barriers cause a lot of the obesity, and we have to work with families to educate them about new ways that they can think about their health."

About sixty-five community health leaders met at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center Monday to share thoughts, experiences, and possible approaches to dealing with the childhood obesity problem.