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State Health, Education Leaders Recognize Berks County Middle School for Boosting Physical Activity Among Students

ROBESONIA, Pa., Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During a visit today to Conrad Weiser Middle School, Department of Health Secretary Everette James and Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak commended the school for its efforts to increase physical activity among students.

"One-third of all Pennsylvania children are overweight or obese, putting them at risk of a lifetime of health problems," said James. "Schools like Conrad Weiser are making the health of children a top priority by combating childhood obesity through increased physical activity and improved nutrition for their students. These schools are proving that scheduling at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day is possible and that it improves both health and academic performance."

The middle school received one of 40 Active School grants awarded by the Department of Health through the federal Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant. Schools received a $5,000 grant from the department and an additional $10,000 from one of five supporting organizations. The program requires schools to assess all participating students and to implement evidence-based physical activities that meet federal guidelines.

Schools were selected for participation based on their commitment to provide a health and fitness curriculum that adds 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. According to a recent survey, only about 38 percent of the state's middle school students get the recommended amount of physical activity.

"The connection between good health and academic achievement is well established in research," said Zahorchak. "Many schools are taking proactive steps to provide students with the opportunity not only to learn about the benefits of physical activity, but also to increasingly engage in exercise during the school day."

Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last 25 years. Overweight children face an increased risk of health problems as adults, including diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and certain types of cancer.

Obesity is more than a health risk; it also contributes significantly to the cost of treating chronic diseases which are responsible for at least 70 percent of all health expenditures. A study released in July found obese Americans -- those who are 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight -- cost the nation an estimated $147 billion in weight-related medical bills in 2008, double what it was ten years ago.

Capital BlueCross provided funding to Conrad Weiser Middle School and is also providing funds for nine other participating schools in the state.

"We're very grateful for the financial support of Capital BlueCross and the other organizations that have joined this important effort," said James.

For more information on the Active Schools Grant Program, visit the Department of Health Web site at

Media contact: Holli Senior, 717-787-1783

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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