Childhood obesity is at 18 percent in Kentucky—one of the highest rates in the country—and 35.7 percent of Kentucky children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Nationally, rural children are more likely to be obese than those in cities and suburbs.
Local organizers hope to improve these statistics by implementing the research-based Coordinated Approach to Child Health, or CATCH, to school-aged kids, Schmitt writes. CATCH has been proven to produce lasting results through the promotion of physical activity and healthy food choices. This is accomplished by using a four-pronged approach that includes involving the school cafeterias, home, the curriculum and after school activities.
“Henderson County has the potential to lead the state,” Chase Fulcher of the Community Foundation of Henderson told Schmitt. “We’ve got the potential to be the first school system and county in Kentucky to adopt this program.” Subway franchise owner Jeff Troxel, a partner of CATCH, approached Fulcher about investing in the program, Schmitt reports, and soon after the foundation agreed to donate $20,000 and lead the cause.
Fulcher has since secured a $10,000 to $20,000 commitment from Methodist Hospital, private donations of $20,000, and $5,000 from the Henderson County Board of Education, and is looking for state and federal grants, Schmitt writes. The money, along with involvement by local staffs, is expected to sustain the program.
A CATCH trainer is scheduled to begin training the local school principals about the program March 12, Schmitt reports. After this training, the program will move into the schools.