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Student Fitness Challenge

Childhood obesity is a major epidemic in the world of healthcare and wellness. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. New Hanover County is no exception, with a study done last year that revealed one out of three kindergarteners enrolled in New Hanover County Schools was found to have a body mass index (BMI) in the overweight or obese range. The higher the BMI, the more prone a child is to health problems, and the costs of the treatments of diseases associated obesity continues to rise.

Over the past six years, the Wilmington Health Foundation has been working towards a solution to this problem! A few years ago, J’nelle Ruscetti, Physician Assistant, created the Family Fitness Challenge.  This child obesity intervention program that was offered to families in the community and was studied by NHRMC and found to be an effective tool in addressing the child obesity epidemic. Due to the success of this community-based program, a similar program was piloted at elementary schools to see if it would also be effective in a school-based as well. The Student Fitness Challenge, was shown to have a successful statistical impact on lowering the body mass index of the students who participated in the program.

Last year, through a grant from the NHRMC Foundation, Mrs. Ruscetti had the opportunity to train nurses from five different counties on how to bring the Student Fitness Challenge to their schools. After the program was completed, it was revealed that by having school nurses trained to lead the students in this program, there was a statistically significant drop in the body mass index of the students who participated in the program.

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