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Hospital helps trim childhood obesity with nutrition & dance classes

New Britain [April 07 2009] - By combining the ABCs of healthy eating habits with the swing of Zumba dance, several New Britain families are on track toward healthy lifestyles to help trim childhood obesity incidence.

The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HCC) coordinated with Human Resources Agency of New Britain, Inc. (HRA) Head Start and YMCA of New Britain-Berlin for an eight-week program of nutrition and dance classes that began in February to encourage healthy diet and exercise habits for children at risk of or who have obesity, and their families. The classes, which end next week, are at the YMCA, 50 High St., New Britain.

The program evolved from HRA’s Head Start Nutrition Subcommittee and is funded by HCC’s New Britain Asthma Initiative. Head Start identified program children, ages 3 to 5, who are obese or at risk of becoming obese and invited parents to the classes, also opened to other parents who expressed interest. Childhood obesity is linked to numerous health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol.

During the Tuesday nutrition class, led by an HCC registered dietitian, three to six families, through a Spanish interpreter, learn about fats, healthy dining out, the food guide pyramid, food groups, and portion control. At least 20 moms and kids alike enjoy the Saturday Zumba dance class led by a YMCA instructor and featuring Latin and Caribbean music.

“We had been talking about a program for these preschoolers to start while they’re young,” says Nutritional Subcommittee member Loreen E. Gawel, MPH, coordinator of the hospital’s New Britain Asthma Initiative. Children with asthma are hesitant to participate in sports, she notes, contributing to children becoming overweight. “The best thing we thought of was having this program and getting the parents involved.”

Contact: Kimberly Gensicki, 860-224-5900, x6507














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