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Back-to-School Campaign Motivates Children and Parents to Embrace 'Habits for Health'

Healthy Kids Challenge and AstraZeneca Join Forces to Promote Healthy

Eating and Physical Activity

DIGHTON, Kan. and WILMINGTON, Del., Sept. 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Beginning this month, a new educational campaign will teach children ages 6-12 healthy habits both at home and at school. Through a partnership with Healthy Kids Challenge and AstraZeneca, "Habits for Health" will provide 250 schools, as well as students' families, with resources and support tools that promote healthy eating and physical activity. As part of the campaign, a fun and unique interactive contest called Ready, Set, Cook & Eat will be held at two lucky elementary schools to encourage children to eat better. "Habits for Health" will also help children and families understand a common medical condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

"Nutritious meals, portion control, and physical activity are fundamentals of living a healthy lifestyle," said Vickie James, registered and licensed dietitian and director of Healthy Kids Challenge. "Our goal is to empower schools and families to make healthy behavior a priority and to help children integrate these habits into their everyday routines."

Embracing healthy habits has benefits beyond fighting childhood obesity. Healthy eating and physical activity can help fight common childhood diseases such as asthma and diabetes, and may even reduce symptoms of GERD. The exact prevalence of GERD in children is unknown. However, GERD can lead to potentially serious complications like failure to thrive and erosive esophagitis in children.

There are very few studies in the medical literature reporting the frequency of GERD symptoms in children. In one study, researchers estimate children ages 3-17 years old reported GERD symptoms roughly 2-8% of the time.

Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (the valve separating the esophagus and stomach) does not close properly, allowing acid to back up into the esophagus. Almost everyone has occasional heartburn, but if these symptoms occur two or more days a week, it may be a sign of GERD. GERD is a chronic condition resulting from the backflow of stomach acid into the food-pipe (esophagus) that may lead to more serious medical conditions including failure to thrive and esophageal inflammation if left untreated, but it can be treatable. Symptoms in children with GERD may vary according to age. In addition to heartburn, children with GERD may experience sour or bitter taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, weight loss, vomiting, regurgitation and abdominal pain.

"With childhood obesity on the rise, it's no surprise that we're seeing GERD in young children more than ever before," said Dr. Robbyn Sockolow, a pediatric gastroenterologist in New York City. "Unfortunately, the symptoms of GERD can significantly limit children's daily activities, such as participating in after-school hobbies. It's important that parents and kids know the role healthy eating habits play in managing this condition."

About Ready, Set, Cook & Eat

Ready, Set, Cook & Eat will be held at two elementary schools in Orlando and Kansas City. Three teams of four (kids ages 6-12 and adults together) will be given a "SURPRISE" grocery sack of food supplies. Each team will have limited kitchen equipment and approximately 30 to 40 minutes to prepare a tasty, appealing, nutritious food item from their ingredients. The grocery bags given to the teams are staged with an outcome in mind (snack, breakfast on-the-go, entree, etc.)

In addition, pediatricians and gastroenterologists will be on hand at the events to provide health information and answer questions.

For more information about GERD, tips for GERD-friendly foods for the whole family, and to learn about the "Habits for Health" campaign, please visit

About Healthy Kids Challenge

Healthy Kids Challenge is a national non-profit organization with the mission to use everyday ways to guide schools, communities, and programs in creating solutions to help kids and families Connect Health And Needs, Get Excited (C.H.A.N.G.E.). In 2003-04, Healthy Kids Challenge was the recipient of the American Dietetics Association Anita Owen award for the Most Innovative Educational Program. That same year, Vickie James (R.D., L.D.) was honored by the ADA Foundation as the national recipient of the Award for Excellence in Community Dietetics. Since 1998, Healthy Kids Challenge has been making healthy eating and physical activity CHANGE a success by using a "start where you are" approach, an "every day" process for change, and making familiar environments where kids and families live, learn, work, and play FUN and HEALTHY!

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services. It is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of $26.47 billion and leading positions in sales of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infection products. AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index.

In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $12.44 billion healthcare business with more than 12,000 employees. For nearly three decades, AstraZeneca has offered drug assistance programs side by side with its medicines, and over the past five years, has provided over $3 billion in savings to more than 1 million patients throughout the US and Puerto Rico. AstraZeneca has been named one of the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" by Working Mother magazine and is the only large pharmaceutical company named to FORTUNE magazine's 2007 list of "100 Best Companies to Work For." In 2006, for the fifth consecutive year, Science magazine named AstraZeneca a "Top Employer" on its ranking of the world's most respected biopharmaceutical employers.

For more information about AstraZeneca, please visit:

For more information about GERD please visit: or for information on pediatric GERD visit

SOURCE AstraZeneca
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